He’s empowering “special legislative committees” to figure out how to stop gun violence, as long as the answer isn’t “fewer guns.”
At a certain point, you almost have to be impressed by the sheer obstinate creativity conservatives are able to muster when it comes to first justifying, and then misdirecting attention from their irrational need to own high-powered weapons of war. And nowhere in recent memory has that ingenuity been more prominently featured than among the Republican lawmakers and policy-shapers who have spent the days following the massacre of 19 children at an Uvalde, Texas, elementary school desperately pivoting between a full-throated defense of all things gun-related and an equally vociferous condemnation of everything else — doors, teachers, you name it. So long as it’s not a gun, it seems, conservatives have shown themselves eager to at least consider the possibility that whatever it is shares the blame for the country’s deadliest school shooting in years.
So, stuck between the self-imposed Scylla and Charybdis of actually addressing the issue of gun violence head on (an obvious no-go) or risk being seen as doing nothing at all in the wake of yet another mass tragedy, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has opted for a middle path, calling on Wednesday to empanel special legislative committees “charged with examining and developing legislative recommendations on school safety, mental health, social media, police training, firearm safety, and more.”
In a letter to Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and State House Speaker Dade Phelan, Abbott — who spent the hours following the Uvalde shooting at a fundraiser, and then made a pre-recorded speech to the National Rifle Association a few days later — insisted that these special legislative committees are necessary to “reassess the twin issues of school safety and mass violence.”
“As leaders,” Abbott continued, “we must come together at this time to provide solutions to protect all Texans.”
Red herring of “firearm safety” (presumably meaning “how to shoot weapons that kill people, but, y’know, safer”) notwithstanding, Abbott’s list of topics for the special committees to focus on is conspicuously missing anything to do with the fact that an 18-year-old was able to buy a weapon made for war zones and use it to mow down a classroom of children. Indeed, contrary to Abbott’s claim earlier this week that stricter gun laws are “not a real solution,” it’s worth noting that the Uvalde shooter followed existing gun laws by waiting until he became a legal adult before buying his AR-15.
While it’s perfectly reasonable to say there are lessons to be learned in regard to how schools manage their security, how mental health is addressed and treated, and — in particular — how police proved themselves to be utterly useless in a moment of crisis, the truth is, until Abbott and his ilk actually address the fact that they actively encouraged this atmosphere of permissive, free-wheeling gun celebration, any gleanings on any of the other topics recommended to the committees are going to be ancillary at best.