Editor’s Note: James Moore is a political analyst, author and business communications consultant who has been writing and reporting on Texas politics since 1975. He is the founder of Big Bend Strategies and publishes regularly at Texas to the World. The views expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author. View more opinion on CNN.
Mass shootings have become so common in the US that we have developed a pathology for how to react. The aggrieved families who have lost someone they loved are the recipients of thoughts and prayers. Law enforcement is praised for keeping the tragedy from becoming even more horrific. Counseling is offered to survivors. Politicians come to town to express their sympathy and outrage, and vow that the latest community will recover and stand “Texas strong” or “Sandy Hook strong” or “Parkland strong.”
But nothing happens to prevent another shooting.
We pray. But don’t legislate. And prayer clearly is not stopping the slaughter. In all the statements to come from conservative politicians following up Tuesday’s deadly shooting in Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, where 19 children and two adults were killed, do not expect to hear even a solitary voice suggest gun reform. The Second Amendment is always treated as more important than the lives of children. Words like “evil” and “incomprehensible” and “horrific” will be thrown around and, as Republican US Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas urged us, we will be encouraged to “come together as a nation.” But I suspect we – or some of us – already have. Some of us came together and decided that no horror caused by guns can be worse than restricting access to guns.
The governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, a very conservative Republican, went before television cameras Tuesday and said, “When parents drop their kids off at school, they have every expectation to know they will be able to pick that child up when that school day ends.” The governor ought to be asked how a parent can have that assurance when he said he was upset his constituents weren’t buying enough guns.
“I’m EMBARRASSED,” Abbott tweeted in 2015. “Texas #2 in nation for new gun purchases, behind CALIFORNIA. Let’s pick up the pace Texans.”
He helped his state compete in that gun-buying contest with California. Just last year, Abbott proudly signed into law what he called a “constitutional carry” bill, which allowed anyone over 21 to carry a gun without getting a permit, and he did it after the El Paso mass killing in 2019. There is always the flawed premise that more guns will make it likely a murderer will be stopped by one. Prior to Abbott’s signing of the measure, a license to carry required fingerprints, four to six hours of training, a written exam and a shooting proficiency test.
But that’s over. Guns in Texas won. Regulations and reform lost. Wasn’t even a real contest. Gov. Abbott is quick, however, to ban books that offend his political sensibilities, but gun ownership cannot be constrained.
When President Joe Biden, however, spoke in the hours after the Uvalde tragedy, his words were angry, though mostly aspirati