Mass shooting in Texas is 7th in state under Republican Gov. Greg Abbott
The Texas governor has loosened gun laws and slashed funding for mental health services in the state since he took office in 2015.
The number of gun deaths in Texas has risen dramatically in the eight years since Republican Gov. Greg Abbott took office and loosened gun laws in the state.
Saturday’s mass shooting at a shopping mall in Allen is the seventh mass shooting that’s taken place since Abbott became governor in 2015, according to a report by the Texas Tribune. In the last 14 years, there were two other mass shootings, both at the Fort Hood Army base.
Texas has had the most gun deaths of any state in the country, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In 2021, the latest year for which the CDC has data publicly available, Texas had 4,613 deaths, over 1,000 deaths more than California, which had the second-most gun deaths.
In the eight years Abbott has been in office, the number of gun deaths in the state has steadily climbed. According to the CDC, in 2014 there were 2,848 firearm deaths in Texas — 1,765 fewer than in 2021.
Abbott has proclaimed himself to be against gun reforms and has encouraged state residents to buy more guns.
“I’m EMBARRASSED: Texas #2 in nation for new gun purchases, behind CALIFORNIA. Let’s pick up the pace Texans,” Abbott tweeted in October 2015.
He has signed multiple pieces of legislation that make it easier to obtain and carry guns in the state.
In 2015, Abbott signed a law allowing licensed gun owners to openly carry their firearms in either a hip or a shoulder holster. He also signed a law that forced public colleges and universities in the state to allow people to carry concealed weapons in campus buildings and dormitories.
Six years later, in 2021, Abbott signed a law eliminating the need for permits to carry handguns in public.
That permitless carry legislation was one of seven bills Abbott signed that year that made it easier to obtain and possess guns. People in Texas were then permitted to store guns in hotel rooms, as well as carry guns in public without a belt or holster. One of the new laws repealed a law that had made it a criminal offense to possess a firearm silencer.
“Politicians from the federal level to the local level have threatened to take guns from law-abiding citizens — but we will not let that happen in Texas,” Abbott said in a news release issued on June 17, 2021. “Texas will always be the leader in defending the Second Amendment, which is why we built a barrier around gun rights this session. These seven laws will protect the rights of law-abiding citizens and ensure that Texas remains a bastion of freedom.”
Abbott has rebuffed calls from family members of victims of gun violence in the state to change gun laws to prevent future mass shootings.
In 2022, after an 18-year-old gunman used AR-15-style rifles to kill 19 elementary school students and two teachers in Uvalde, Texas, families of the victims asked Abbott to raise the age limit for purchasing an assault rifle from 18 to 21. Abbott refused, declaring such a law to be unconstitutional.
Abbott has blamed the rise of mass shootings on mental health issues.
“One thing that we can observe very easily, and that is there has been a dramatic increase in the amount of anger and violence that’s taking place in America. And what Texas is doing, in a big-time way, we’re working to address that anger and violence by going to its root cause, which is addressing the mental health problems behind it,” Abbott said Sunday in an interview with Fox News.
However, Abbott last month slashed $211 million in funding for the state’s Health and Human Services Commission, which helps “deliver mental health services in communities across Texas,” according to the HHSC website.
Democratic lawmakers in Texas have criticized Abbott and the GOP-controlled Legislature for refusing to strengthen gun laws.
“There’s a special place in hell … for people that have this kind of problem staring them square in the face and have done nothing about it. I don’t care about their thoughts and I don’t care about their prayers,” Texas state Sen. Roland Gutierrez, a Democrat, said on MSNBC after the Allen mall shooting.
Gutierrez added, “This governor and this lieutenant governor, I’m sorry, but they can go to hell. I cannot — I am tired of these people saying this stuff and doing nothing.”
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.
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