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One Year After El Paso, Lawmakers Still Refuse to Act on Gun Safety

July 31, 2020

In the wake of the mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton, lawmakers across the country – from President Trump to Lt. Governor Dan Patrick – promised to act on gun safety. But to this day, no gun safety laws have been enacted at the federal level or in Texas. Governor Abbott issued a Safety Action Report which failed to recommend background checks on all gun sales. The Mass Violence Prevention and Community Safety Committee failed to seriously consider gun safety laws, instead devoting time to discussing video games. In the year since the Latino-targeted mass shooting in El Paso, an estimated nearly 38,000 Americans have been killed by gun violence, including more than 3,250 Texans.

“Instead of honoring the lives of those killed and wounded by armed hate in El Paso with action on broadly-popular gun safety laws, Texas Republicans just elected, as their chairman, an NRA board member with a penchant for gun extremism and the exact same rhetoric that inspired someone to drive over 600 miles to perpetrate the deadliest act of anti-Latino violence in modern American history,” said Ade Osadolor-Hernandez, a volunteer with Southlake Students Demand Action. “They’ve had their chance to act, and they’ve failed – that’s why we’re going to vote them out in November.” 

“It’s been a full year since armed hate, fueled by xenophobic rhetoric from many Republican leaders, killed 23 of us and wounded dozens more,” said Gaby Diaz, a volunteer with Texas Moms Demand Action. “But in that year, we’ve seen more of the same – hateful, anti-immigrant rhetoric, extremism, and a refusal to even consider common-sense gun safety laws.”

President Trump has continually promoted dangerous racist and anti-Latino sentiments throughout his time as a candidate and while in office. In his white supremacist manifesto, the El Paso shooter echoed language used by the president which described immigration and the presence of Latinos in the United States as an “invasion.” 

Earlier this month, Texas Republicans elected NRA board member Lt. Col. Allen West as Chairman at their convention. West, a gun extremist who has a history of making racist, xenophobic, and Islamophobic remarks, has been an outspoken conspiracy theorist and critic of the Black Lives Matter movement. He has suggested that gun laws were responsible for the Holocaust, despite Jewish advocates’ repeated calls for the gun lobby to stop making such false claims. He has also downplayed the threat of COVID-19 (which he referred to using racist nomenclature) while at the same time suggesting, at various times, that response to the virus was part of a leftist conspiracy to impose tyranny. 

In February, Everytown for Gun Safety launched Gun Sense Majority: Texas, an unprecedented financial and grassroots effort that will begin with making important gains in the state House, defending recently elected Texas gun sense champions in the U.S. House, flipping key congressional seats in the suburbs, and growing and educating the voting electorate in order to make Texas competitive at the statewide level. Everytown also released a memo outlining its electoral plans for Texas, and new polling, which demonstrates that gun safety will be a key election issue in Texas. And further polling, conducted by EquisLabs and Global Strategy Group, found that Latino voters support gun violence prevention in stronger numbers than they did before the shooting in El Paso.

Information about gun violence in Texas is available here.

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