Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has declared school safety a priority for the current legislative session and dismissed calls for more laws that would restrict access to guns, reports the Texas Tribune. “Some want more gun laws, but too many local officials won’t even enforce the gun laws that are already on the books,” the governor said in his State of the State address. Without providing a source or clear data, he asserted that “most gun crimes are committed by criminals who possess guns illegally.” Abbott proposed a 10-year mandatory minimum sentence for people not legally allowed to have a firearm who have them anyway. Abbott’s speech avoided a glaring reality: The majority of the state’s 19 mass shootings over six decades were carried out by men who legally acquired firearms. Guns were legally obtained in 13 shootings, including two in which the shooter was not allowed to have one but took advantage of a loophole in the law that does not require background checks for firearms acquired from private individuals. Firearms were obtained illegally in three instances.
An analysis found that lawmakers failed to pass at least two dozen bills that would have prevented people from legally obtaining the weapons and ammunition used in seven of the state’s mass shootings. Such measures included requiring universal background checks, banning the ownership of certain firearms and raising the minimum age to purchase an assault weapon from 18 to 21. Lawmakers have loosened restrictions on public carrying while making it harder for local governments to regulate them. Brett Cross, whose 10-year-old son was among the 19 children and two teachers killed last year at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, agreed with Abbott that criminals should not have access to guns. But, Cross said, the governor’s comments ignore the fact that the people responsible for many mass shootings did not previously have a criminal background. Little evidence exists to support Abbott’s claim, said Bill Spelman, has spent the last 30 years teaching and researching criminal justice policy. “To just say that most gun crimes are committed by criminals who possess guns illegally is a statement you can’t back up,” said Spelman, an emeritus professor of public affairs at the University of Texas at Austin.