The fight for Constitutional Carry in the state of Texas should be over now, but Democrats are launching an eleventh-hour effort to push Gov. Greg Abbott into vetoing the measure approved by lawmakers last month; pointing to the shooting in Austin this past weekend that left one person dead and more than a dozen others wounded as a taste of things to come if permitless carry does become law.
Rep. Vikki Goodwin, an Austin Democrat, even tweeted out an open letter to Abbott asking him to “send a message that we are addressing mass gun violence” by vetoing Constitutional Carry.
As Austin recovers from a senseless mass shooting leaving 1 dead & 13 injured, the permitless carry bill sits on Gov. Abbott's desk awaiting his signature. Today I sent a letter asking him to veto the bill, as it will only serve to perpetuate mass gun violence in TX. #txlege pic.twitter.com/JmD5qOFy9F
— Rep. Vikki Goodwin (@VikkiGoodwinTX) June 14, 2021
While I’m not surprised to see Goodwin and other Democrats use the shooting in Austin to demand Abbott veto the measure, the fact remains that the two suspects who’ve been arrested are both juveniles who aren’t eligible to legally carry a firearm under either the current licensing law or under the permitless carry legislation awaiting Abbott’s signature.
Jeremiah Roshaun Leland James Tabb, 17, was arrested on a suspicion of aggravated assault, according to a release from the Austin Police Department.
Tabb was arrested Monday without incident in Killeen while enrolled in a summer school class, police say. Killeen ISD police say the suspect was arrested at Harker Heights High School.
At age 17, Tabb is legally considered an adult under Texas law and his case will be handled in the adult criminal court system.
On Saturday afternoon, APD confirmed the arrest of another young person in connection with the deadly shooting. This person is under the age of 17.
In other words, Constitutional Carry (or the state’s carry laws in general) have nothing to do with the shooting this past weekend. Some anti-gun Democrats appear to be aware of the weakness of that argument, and rather than urging Abbott to veto Constitutional Carry are trying to get him to put gun control on the agenda of a special legislative session that’s expected this fall.
“When I think of the word ‘tragedy,’ I think of something uncommonly awful. Unfortunately, mass shootings have become so commonplace that tragedy is just a part of the Texas experience at this point,” tweeted Rep. Joe Moody, an El Paso Democrat who has been outspoken about the need for bipartisan gun control measures after the El Paso shooting. “A special session is ahead, with another regular session not long after that. I hope we finally take meaningful action to make these tragedies rarer in our state.”
Sen. Sarah Eckhardt, D-Austin, called for the Legislature to take “meaningful action.”
“I am angry because the politicians of Texas have failed to keep their constituents safe,” Eckhardt said in a statement, adding that dozens of Texans have died in mass shootings across the state in recent years. “Yet the Legislature just spent five months making it easier for violent people to get guns.”
What would Moody or Eckhardt consider to be “meaningful action”? Neither lawmaker offered any specific legislation, which is par for the course for gun control fans. They’re either unable or unwilling to say what gun control laws they believe could have prevented two juveniles from shooting at one another on a crowded Austin street, but they know that the legislature needs to “do something.”
If gun control was the answer to shootings like this, then we wouldn’t have seen a party bus shot up in Oakland, California last month, or ten people shot on a sidewalk in Chicago just a few days ago. Both California and Illinois have far more restrictive gun laws than the state of Texas, and those laws aren’t preventing these types of attacks.
One thing Texas Democrats aren’t talking about? The defunding of the Austin, Texas Police Department. My friend Ed Morrissey pointed out last month that response times to shootings, armed robberies, and other violent crimes in the city are growing longer. And despite claims to the contrary, the department has seen tens of millions of dollars diverted from its budget to other programs.
The overall police budget didn’t get cut by $150 million, but it came close at -$141 million and some change. Austin zeroed out nearly $35 million for professional standards (!) and support services, and $50 million from operations support as well. Another $50 million got taken away from “neighborhood-based policing,” which is one of the best-practices strategies designed to make policing less intrusive and more effective. Even investigations got a $5 million haircut. If looking at the investment by strategic outcome, Austin took $138 million away from the strategic “safety” outcome.
Even if significant amounts of these cuts went to funding other agencies, it’s an astounding funding transfer away from “safety.” The note on this chart points out that the money mostly went to efforts called the “Reimagine Safety Fund” ($45M) and something called the “Decouple Fund” ($76M). If reimagining public safety means accepting 16-minute response times to shootings, then Austin has become decoupled from reality.
If Texas Democrats want “meaningful action” to reduce violence, the first step they could take is to ensure that law enforcement have adequate resources to police high-crime neighborhoods and other hot spots… unless they truly believe that stripping the Austin police of nearly $150-million in its budget has had less of an impact on violent crime than a permitless carry law that has yet to be signed by the governor.