This weekend, our nation was wracked with unimaginable horror and grief for the 279th time this year. Seven people were killed and over twenty more were injured when a man went on a murderous rampage in the West Texas city of Odessa on Saturday afternoon.
The killings made Texas the state with the second-most casualties from shootings except for Nevada, which will forever hold the record after the slaughter at the Mandala Bay hotel in Las Vegas.
As the killings increase in both frequency and lethality, the state government continues to do nothing to address the issue except make it easier and easier for people to acquire dangerous firearms.
A frustrated Texas historian took to the op-ed pages of the New York Times to ask his governor a question:
“Exactly how many dead Texans does it take for Gov. Greg Abbott to actually do something about the epidemic of gun violence sweeping his state? So far, no body count is too big for our governor, who seems determined to do exactly nothing.”
Richard Parker, author of the book “Lone Star Nation: How Texas Will Transform America,” had nothing but cold contempt and fury for the governor’s predictable calls for thoughts and prayers after the killings and his steadfast support of a pro-gun agenda, no matter how many of his citizens it kills.
Yet no amount of violence has shamed our Republican governor nor his right-wing lieutenant governor, Dan Patrick, into action. In the wake of the El Paso massacre, which killed 22 and wounded 28 in early August, both flew to the desert city for a memorial. In front of scared, grieving crowd of thousands, Mr. Abbott offered up a gruel of pure drivel: “We still cannot comprehend the evil that struck El Paso.” The crowd, fully aware of the killer’s hatred of Latinos and his AK-47, responded with a leaden golf clap.
If leadership could be rated from one to 10, Mr. Abbott’s would be a zero.
He has never had the guts to do more than mouth a few platitudes while paying obeisance to the gun lobby and the state’s admittedly historic gun culture. In 2015, he even tweeted: “I’m EMBARRASSED: Texas #2 in nation for new gun purchases, behind CALIFORNIA. Let’s pick up the pace Texans. @NRA.”
Parker rightfully points out that the cowardice of the Abbott-Patrick administration extends not just to guns but to every part of the Trump administration heinous agenda, staying silent and complicit as horrifying human rights abuses are carried out in his state and his immigrants.
That kind of courage just ain’t their brand. Even as the Trump administration has turned Texas into a battleground of controversy, Mr. Abbott has made less noise than a frog in a drought. Not about the horrific conditions for immigrants incarcerated in Texas. Not about a border wall that is actually unpopular with most Texans. Not even about the uncertainty the president has injected into NAFTA, vital to the economic lifeblood of Texas.
Unfortunately, this kind of behavior is par for the course when it comes to Republican politicians, who are forced to cling to culture war issues like gun reform and fearmongering about immigration in order to cover up the fact that they have nothing to offer voters that would actually improve their lives.
The Republican Party is a death cult; their full-throated opposition to anything that would stop the incessant spilling of American blood is all the evidence one needs to know.