An incomplete list of times Texas leaders wished Texas had more guns

More than a dozen elementary school students were killed in a shooting near San Antonio today. This is how we got here.

Greg Abbott speaking at the NRA forum with the Texas flag behind him
Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
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On Tuesday afternoon, reports of a uniquely American horror trickled in: There was an active shooter at an elementary school outside San Antonio, Texas. The site was Robb Elementary, a public school located about 90 miles west of San Antonio in the city of Uvalde, which hosts only second, third, and fourth graders. Its last day of school was scheduled for Thursday.

Local hospitals had confirmed receiving patients with injuries stemming from the shooting, though at first it was unclear who’d been harmed and how. But in a press conference shortly before 4 p.m. local time, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said the inconceivable: Fourteen students had been killed in the shooting, as well as a teacher. The shooter himself was also dead, Abbott said. (Late Tuesday, the death toll was revised upward: 19 kids had been killed, along with two adults.)

Actually, I should correct myself: This type of announcement used to be inconceivable. But in the U.S., mass shootings happen all the time. There have been over 200 mass shootings this year. In the last two weeks alone, there have been three mass killings that are all being investigated as hate crimes. The most upsettingly direct analogue is the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, in which 20 elementary schoolers were killed. Two and a half years later, political commentator Dan Hodges sent a now infamous tweet:

It seems he’s right. Republican Rep. Tony Gonzalez represents the district where Robb Elementary is located. In response to the news, Gonzalez wrote on Twitter that “my heart breaks for the city of Uvalde,” adding a Bible verse about how “children are a gift from the Lord.” Before Tuesday afternoon, he was constantly swaggering about voting against gun control and protecting Texans’ Second Amendment rights:

This emphatic pro-gun posturing is basically mandatory for Texas Republicans. Beto O’Rourke, a former Texas Democratic congressman now running for governor against Abbott, has staked his political career on limiting the proliferation of weapons in the state — a stance so controversial in the Lone Star State that there are countless thinkpieces about whether it will singlehandedly doom his candidacy. And it does make him stand out, because most of Texas’s powerful people are eager to get more guns in more hands. Below, an incomplete list of Texas leaders wishing Texas had more guns and vowing to help make that happen.

Last year, Abbott celebrated the fact that a new law made open carry legal in Texas. “No license or training is needed,” Abbott boasted. Just last month, he vowed to Texans, “I will always protect our [Second Amendment] rights!” In a statement released Tuesday after the shooting, he called the shooting a “horrific loss” and said Texans were “grieving for the victims of this senseless crime.”

Senseless, perhaps, but not surprising.