Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick says he wants to protect students and educators from gun violence, but his first priority is keeping the firearms industry happy. Gov. Greg Abbott also is a major promoter of firearms, but in the days immediately following the shootings at Santa Fe High School, Abbott at least proposed that the Legislature consider enacting a red flag law to try to keep guns out of the hands of the most dangerous people. Now, he apparently is retreating.
In the realm of “gun control,” a red flag law would be modest but potentially effective in isolated cases. Such a law would make it easier for judges to issue orders removing or blocking access to firearms for people who have been legally determined to be potentially dangerous to themselves or others, such as people with some mental issues or individuals involved in incidents of domestic violence.
Patrick instructed a Senate committee to hold a public hearing on the red flag proposal, but it apparently was only to give gun owners the opportunity to flock to the Capitol to remind senators what a bad idea they thought a red flag law was. Once the show was over, Patrick announced that he intended to kill the legislation next session. (He is assuming he will be reelected in November, and he will be if educators don’t get out in force and vote for Patrick’s opponent, Mike Collier, for lieutenant governor.)
“I have never supported these (red flag) policies, nor has the majority of the Texas Senate,” Patrick said.
Patrick also said Abbott was backing off his red flag proposal, and the governor, who seldom lets political courage dictate his performance, may be. Following complaints from conservatives and leaders in his own party, Abbott already had indicated, in a tweet, that his resolve – if he ever had any – to see the Legislature enact a red flag law was melting.
Patrick and Abbott would rather keep the firearms industry happy, as well as the thousands of Texas voters who believe that the Second Amendment allows no room for common sense or public safety. Remember, both have proposed arming more teachers, a dangerous idea that would allow the gun industry to sell even more guns but wouldn’t effectively reduce gun violence in schools.
After the Santa Fe shootings, Abbott and Patrick also proposed making school facilities more secure against armed intruders and improving mental health services for students, ideas that have merit but are very expensive. Neither has proposed a substantial source of funding to help budget-strapped school districts implement these ideas, and, given their history of shortchanging public education, they aren’t likely to.
State Rep. Joe Moody, D-El Paso, who tried but failed to get a red flag law enacted last year, reacted to Patrick’s opposition. “There are some very disturbed people who shouldn’t have guns, at least temporarily, and we believe we can devise a way to identify them fairly and constitutionally while protecting Second Amendment rights,” Moody said.