After a shooting on Austin’s popular Sixth Street last weekend, some Democrats and gun control activists in Texas tried to use the tragedy to torpedo the permitless carry bill that had been approved by lawmakers. State Rep. Vicki Goodwin was among those urging Gov. Greg Abbott to veto the bill, claiming that if the governor were to sign the legislation so soon after the shooting that killed one person and left more than a dozen other people injured, Texans would “see this decision as a seal of approval on the practice of solving disputes with guns.”
Well, Abbott rejected that argument and signed the Constitutional Carry bill privately on Wednesday afternoon before holding a public signing ceremony for HB 1927 and six other pro-2A bills in San Antonio on Thursday. Afterwards, Abbott was asked by a reporter about the timing of the signing, given the shooting in Austin, and the governor’s responded by noting that he had spoken to the family of 25-year old Doug Kantor, the man who was killed last weekend.
“The family members are heartbroken about what happened, but the family members were adamant about two things: one, do not let this crime committed by teenagers be a reason to eliminate gun rights in the United States of America.
Second thing they told me is they were adamant also that they were against policies that defund police and our cities, like what happened Austin, Texas. The last thing everybody must understand, those who believe and support Second Amendment rights, we support the right of every law-abiding American to be able to have a weapon to defend themselves.
That is different from teenagers unlawfully getting access to guns to commit crimes. Those are people who deserve to be behind bars for the rest of their lives.”
As Abbott noted, the two individuals that have been arrested and charged with the shooting are both juveniles who allegedly were in illegal possession of firearms when the opened fire on the crowded street in Austin’s entertainment district. Even under the state’s new Constitutional Carry law, which recognizes the right of legal gun owners to lawfully carry a firearm in self-defense without the need for a government permit, these teens would have been breaking the law by carrying a handgun (not to mention shooting at one another).
Kudos to Austin television station KXAN for reporting on the governor’s comments, because most other media outlets have ignored them. KVUE-TV also covered Abbott’s remarks about his conversation with the Kantor family, but made sure to follow up the governor’s response with criticism of the new permitless carry law from Austin mayor Steve Adler.
I have no idea if the Kantor family will choose to make any public statements about the new Constitutional Carry law or the Second Amendment, and it’s understandable if they decide not to speak with the media about their views on the Second Amendment or gun control. However, I do think it’s important that news outlets at least report on Abbott’s comments, because the media generally follows a narrative after these shootings that focuses almost exclusively on those calling for more gun control. It’s a sad fact, but if someone loses a loved one in a shooting and doesn’t embrace an anti-gun ideology, most reporters tend to lose interest in what they have to say.
The media’s preferred narrative after a shooting is that more gun control laws would have made a difference, and they tend to focus on those voices that will help amplify that message. The reality is that there are many individuals who’ve felt the pain of losing a loved one, yet don’t believe that gun control is the answer to stopping these types of crimes. It doesn’t mean that they care more about their guns than their kids, or that they’ve become bought and paid for tools of the “gun lobby.” It simply means that they’re looking for solutions that will actually work, and they haven’t found them in gun bans, licensing laws, or universal background check requirements.
Since the awful day in 2018 when a killer opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, I’ve had the opportunity to get to know the father of one of the victims pretty well. Ryan Petty has been a guest on Cam & Co several times over the past few years, and I’ve not only come to consider Ryan a friend, but I’ve been truly impressed with his dedication to ensuring that other parents never have to go through the pain and grief that his family has lived with since Alaina Petty was murdered.
Ryan has worked extensively with state officials, local law enforcement, and even the Secret Service on ways to prevent school shootings that don’t involve banning guns or putting new restrictions on legal gun owners, but he doesn’t get nearly the amount of press attention as other parents like Fred Guttenberg and Manuel Oliver who’ve channeled their grief into gun control activism.
That’s just the reality of the news industry, but it doesn’t reflect the true range of viewpoints on gun control and the Second Amendment by the victims and family members of violent crimes. Losing a loved one doesn’t automatically turn someone into a gun control activist, and some of the most articulate and passionate supporters of the right to keep and bear arms that I know are people who know all too well the pain and horror of a beloved husband, wife, son, or daughter to an armed killer.