Pro-Gun Gov. Greg Abbott Just Met With Grieving Santa Fe Families — But He Won’t Help Them
On the Friday following the mass shooting at Santa Fe High School in Texas; Governor Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz seized on the opportunity to soak up the limelight. In light of other mass shootings, you can count on conservatives to deflect focus away from the gun. This tragic event was no exception especially in a state that is under conservative rule.
In his immediate statement, Gov. Abbott played the part of the lawman. He revealed details about the shooter. Lt. Gov. Patrick repeated the conservative mantra that the gun was not the issue. Despite the fact that it was used in the killings and the injuries. Sen. Cruz went into his preachy cadence to touch on the emotions of the conservative base. Sen. Cornyn quickly established the “good guys with guns” defense. He said that if it hadn’t been for officers on site, the violence could have been worse. 10 people were killed and 13 injured.
Right-wing response to gun violence
Before the Santa Fe shooting, there was another mass shooting in February. That shooting was at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. The incident triggered student activism for gun control. This activism was pivotal to the demands for gun reform. This time, the activism came from the students and direct survivors of gun violence. Before this, it was more common to see those demands come from parents.
That student activism drew attention from the media and lawmakers. But It also became a battleground of opinion between the left and the Right over guns. Conservatives shamelessly vilified the student survivors of the shooting. The Right also “flooded the zone” with conspiracy theories attacking those students.
Salon compiled details of those behind the attacks. The article says the right-wing media attack campaign was driven by the National Rifle Association (NRA). It’s no secret that the Texas conservative leaders mentioned are loyal to the NRA. Needless to say, the NRA continues to have great influence in the gun debate under a pro-gun governor.
The Washington Post published an article about the response within the Santa Fe community. It claimed that town’s students were careful to not upset their communities much like the Parkland students upset conservatives. Specifically, the message was adjusted to talking about gun safety rather than gun control. Overall, everyone agrees that inaction is not an option.
The Post reported that representatives of gun-control groups went to the town of Santa Fe. They were hoping to make an impact but were very cautious in their approach. Especially in a pro-gun community. Parkland students have reportedly been in contact with Santa Fe students via text message and social media. The Parkland students are helping them deal with the media spotlight.
RELATED: BREAKING: Florida Governor To Sign Gun Control Bill Passed In Wake Of Parkland School Shooting
It appears that there’s only so much influence that gun control groups can have on this community. But the article refers to one 17-year old student who appears to be the loudest voice over this issue. Her anger targeting politicians for inaction is like the anger expressed by the Parkland students. But, it’s around gun safety. She says that her generation will make sure lawmakers who do nothing about gun safety are not elected.
One report by a local CBS affiliate referred to Alice Tripp. Tripp is the legislative director of the Texas Rifle Association who said there was “no common ground” with gun control groups. She said that her group would caution against solutions that restricted buying or ownership of guns.
Governor Controls the Narrative
Alice Tripp represents a local NRA affiliate group that was present at the three-day meetings this week. Gov. Abbott held these meetings with survivors, gun rights, and gun control groups that started on Tuesday. This was a way for the pro-gun governor to take control of the message about gun violence following the shooting. He said during on one of his opening statements:
Whether you are a Republican or a Democrat, whether you are pro gun or believe in more gun regulations, the reality is that we all want guns out of the hands of those that would try to murder our children.
His statement reveals a slight change to his initial approach about guns. While his Lt. Governor refused to blame the gun, Abbott at least acknowledged the danger of guns enough want to create more distance between them and an unwanted shooter. This is certainly different from another statement he made this year, saying:
The problem is not guns, it’s hearts without God.
The seriousness of how Abbott handles this issue depends on his immediate response. While he did start those meetings, they were all closed door. Media was only allowed long enough to document that some effort was being made. Three days is enough time for people to feel that they can vent. It’s also short enough to control the discussion in a controlled setting. That setting was again, controlled by Gov. Abbott.
The mentioned CBS report said that solutions were about mental health and improving school security. This is nothing new as conservatives always argue that mental health and arming more people with more guns as the solution.
But their report also recalls how fast the Florida legislature responded after the Parkland shooting. That legislature was already in session and in three weeks passed a gun reform bill. The Texas legislature is not in session until January of 2019. Democratic and Republican lawmakers called on Gov. Abbott to hold a special session. The Texas governor has ignored those calls.
Here’s a tweet from the Governor’s account about one of his strategies.
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) May 24, 2018
But again, even the Governor’s gun safety solutions admit that the gun is dangerous. Those solutions being about gun storage and reporting them when they go missing. State Democrats have already said that these meetings were all for show. Footage of the meetings shows the Governor talking tough about solving the problem. There’s also footage of people embracing each other and applauding an officer who was there. At best, Gov. Abbott was able to make a good show that would tug at conservative heartstrings.
Here’s a report about those roundtable discussions.
[Featured image via YouTube]
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