School shooting may not bring change to gun-loving Texas
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Texas has more than 1.2 million licensed handgun owners who can openly carry their weapons in public. The state hosted the National Rifle Association's annual meeting two weeks ago. And until today, the governor's re-election website was raffling off a shotgun.
Guns are so hard-wired into Texas culture that last week's deadly rampage at Santa Fe High School is considered unlikely to result in any significant restrictions on access to weapons in the Lone Star State.
Republican Gov. Greg Abbott reacted to the killings of eight students and two teachers by calling for a series of roundtable discussions on school safety, starting with one on Tuesday in Austin. He said last week that he wants to find ways to keep guns away from those who pose an "immediate danger to others."
But the state's 20-year dominance by the Republican Party all but guarantees the meetings will be dominated by calls to boost school security and "harden" campuses – an idea backed by the NRA – instead of demands for gun restrictions, said Cal Jillson, political science professor at Southern Methodist University.
That's in sharp contrast to the response to the Feb. 14 shooting rampage at a high school in Parkland, Fla., that left 17 dead. Three weeks after the bloodbath, Florida politicians defied the NRA and passed a gun control package after a lobbying campaign led by student survivors of the attack.
"The difference in Texas is the Republican Party is in complete control. It is unchallenged at the state level," Jillson said. "Even the young people from Santa Fe are not full-throated advocates of gun control to keep the children safe."
In fact, at a church service Sunday, Santa Fe High student Monica Bracknell, who survived the shooting, told the governor the attack should not be turned into a battle over gun control.