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In the aftermath of the massacre at a grammar school in Uvalde, Texas, let’s put the expression of grief and shock by Gov. Greg Abbott in context. “What happened in Uvalde is a horrific tragedy that cannot be tolerated in the state of Texas,” Abbott said.
But in 2015, during his first term as governor in Texas, Abbott tweeted his embarrassment about Texas trailing California in gun buys. Texans got the message that they should buy more guns. Many more.
This year so far, at least 120,742 more Texans tried to buy guns than California residents, according to the FBI. One of those buyers was Salvador Ramos. The high school senior bought two AR -15-style assault rifles just days after turning 18. On Tuesday, Ramos killed 19 children and two adults at an elementary school in Uvalde.
The murdered children at Robb Elementary School include Amerie Jo Garza, 10; Makenna Lee Elrod, 10; Uziyah Garcia, 8; Xavier Javier Lopez, 10; and Jose Flores, 10. Fourth-grade teacher Eva Mireles, 44, was also killed.
A reporter wrote about hearing the screams of family members of the murdered children. Amerie Jo’s father, Angel Garcia, tried to find solace in his faith. “My little love is now flying high with the angels above,” he said.
Abbott built his political career partially on helping the National Rifle Association, the gunmaker lobby. Abbott is scheduled to speak at the NRA’s convention in Houston on Friday.
Texas has had eight mass shootings in the past 13 years. Twenty-three people died after an El Paso Walmart shooting in August 2019. In November 2017, Devin Kelley killed 26 people at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs before killing himself.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Texas had the 26th highest rate of gun deaths in 2020, the most recent figures available. More than 4,160 people died in shootings in the state that year.
Abbott and fellow Texas Republicans, including U.S. Rep. Tony Gonzalez (R-San Antonio), have helped make Texas a state where parents of fourth-graders at Robb Elementary will mark what should have been milestones in their children’s lives with trips to the cemetery.
A perfect grade
Gonzalez, whose district includes Uvalde, tweeted that “Children are a gift from the Lord.”
Gonzalez has consistently voted against gun safety laws. He bragged that he had “a perfect grade on my NRA questionnaire.”
In June 2021, Abbott was surrounded by members of the NRA when he signed a law to make Texas a “Second Amendment sanctuary,” one of seven pro-gun laws Abbott signed that day. The most extreme proponents of Second Amendment sanctuaries claim, like slaveholders more than 150 years ago, that federal laws are invalid and can be nullified by states.
“Texas will always be the leader in defending the Second Amendment,” Abbott said. What he didn’t say was that if that means children must die, so be it because he values the modern and ahistorical Supreme Court interpretation of the right to bear arms more than the lives of children and teachers.
Giffords, the gun violence prevention organization led by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona, gave Texas an “F” on its gun law scorecard. Texas lawmakers passed a permitless carry law in 2021 that will allow most people to carry guns in public without going through training or having to get permits.