Five major massacres have occurred on Abbott’s watch since 2017. His failure to keep Texans safe represents a leadership failure.
DALLAS – Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has already moved on from the latest mass murder in the state he represents.
Less than 48 hours after a gunman killed a three-year-old boy and his parents, turned his rifle to butchering two young sisters (in fourth and second grade at Wylie ISD), killed a security guard, an engineer and another innocent victim — and then injured more than half a dozen others — Governor Abbott got up early Monday to speak about border security, criticize President Joe Biden and appear live on Fox News.
Then, hours later, the governor traveled to Robstown, near Corpus Christi, to pioneer a new Tesla facility with Elon Musk.
There, Abbott did not discuss the Allen tragedy.
And he didn’t accept questions from reporters.
Sure, Governor Abbott addressed what happened to Allen.
On Saturday, his office emailed the following statement:
“Our hearts go out to the people of Allen, Texas tonight during this unspeakable tragedy. I have been in contact with Mayor Fulk and DPS Director McCraw as well as other state and local leaders and have offered the full support of the State of Texas to local officials to ensure that all necessary assistance and resources are rapidly deployed, including DPS officers, Texas Rangers and investigative resources.”
Then on Sunday, Abbott traveled to Allen to attend a community prayer service at Cottonwood Creek Church.
But he didn’t address that crowd. And his office declined a request for an interview with the WFAA. In fact, the governor did not speak to any reporters at all while he was in Collin County.
It was clear by Monday morning that Abbott wanted to get back to the political issues he felt most comfortable discussing.
At 7am, in one of his first press conferences ever, in front of carefully outfitted state guards and planes behind him, Governor Abbott aimed to bring back the narrative on border security as the end of Title 42 nears this week.
This morning, at the end of his prepared statements about sending more guards to the border, Abbott finally answered a question about the Allen shooting, but offered little more.
“People in Allen, but especially families, want to know right now why this happened, how it happened,” Abbott said in his response. “I believe that in the coming days the public will be much better informed about why and how this happened. This will inform us as leaders of Texas on the next steps to take to try and prevent crimes like this from happening in the future.
But the Allen massacre is just the latest tragedy to occur while Abbott was governor.
In 2019, following the Santa Fe high school shooting, Abbott abandoned the red flag laws after a backlash from the conservative base.
He eventually signed bills from the legislature to strengthen mental health services for children and approved funds for school districts to add more safety measures to their campuses.
Then, after the mass murders in Sutherland Springs, El Paso, Midland and Uvalde, the governor backed efforts to relax gun laws in Texas.
In 2021, against the wishes of statewide law enforcement leaders, Republicans approved “open carry,” which allows anyone to carry a firearm without the need for a concealed weapons permit and, most importantly, without any training.
These remarks don’t suggest that Governor Abbott doesn’t care about the violence and the lives lost. But they highlight an issue where Governor Abbott disagrees with a majority of Texans.
A poll last week by the University of Texas at Austin showed that 76% of Texas voters support raising the age to purchase a gun from 18 to 21. Only 20% of Texas voters oppose the idea.
Perhaps the most interesting statistic from that poll is what Republicans said: Conservative voters in this state are backing a proposal to raise the age for gun purchases to 21 by a margin of two to one from 64 percent to 31%.
The raising of the age limit would have prevented the Uvalde shooter from buying the firearms he used to kill 19 fourth graders and two teachers last May. Even so, that legislation won’t pass before lawmakers adjourn on May 29.
On the other hand, raising the age limit to 21 for purchasing a firearm wouldn’t have stopped the 33-year-old gunman in Allen over the weekend.
And Abbott has consistently insisted that tougher gun laws haven’t stopped mass shootings in other states. Instead, he said, mental health is the long-term solution.
Mental health services, however, do not appear to have stopped the massacres.
Partisan politics always surface after every mass shooting.
But Texans still have more in common than we have differences.
Collectively, we all want to be able to shop with our families on the weekends, attend worship safely, and send our children to school without worrying about whether they will be killed.
Failure to keep Texans safe is a failure of leadership.