Another stunning story of racism in the Trump era surged into headlines this week when a report from the San Antonio Express-News revealed that a gun owner brimming with hatred sent a staggering number of racist, violence-promising letters to Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) over a year and a half long period.
Ralph Pulliam—who unsurprisingly is an aggrieved white male—ranted about undocumented immigrants and said he would murder them en masse, threats that should be taken at face value given the wave of white nationalist violence we’ve seen perpetrated against minorities since 2016.
“We will open fire on these thugs. It will be a bloodbath,” Pulliam wrote.
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During the time in which he was papering the AG’s desk with his rants, Pulliam was visited by the police at least 35 times, often due to 911 calls from locals concerned about his behavior. Even so, authorities were unable to take any legal action against him because the shotgun-wielding man had not technically broken any laws as far as they knew.
The police were eventually informed by an Express-News reporter about the threatening letters sent to the AG.
“Since you’ve made us aware of those threats, our fusion center and our mental health unit have reached out to the AG’s office and are trying to work something to make a case against Pulliam. They’re going to investigate that,” Sgt. Michelle Ramos told the paper in response.
The fact that the AG had not already informed the local authorities about Pulliam’s violent letters has provoked an understandable wave of criticism. Given the near-constant occurrence of mass shootings in this country, one would expect far more diligence from someone in Paxton’s position. Ignoring credible threats like those sent in by Pulliam represents a staggering dereliction of duty that could have easily led to needless loss of life.
Democratic Texas State Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer took AG Paxton to task in a letter:
“These messages are clearly threats of deadly force against San Antonians based solely on the color of their skin. It is deeply alarming to me that despite the large volume and explicit nature of the messages from Mr. Pulliam, the Office of Attorney General has taken so long to cooperate with local law enforcement.”
While this saga luckily didn’t end in tragedy it should serve as a reminder that the Republican Party—whether through failure to support sensible gun laws or through simple inaction like in Paxton’s case—represents the single biggest hurdle this country faces in stemming its grisly parade of gun violence.