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"She Had No Face."
Show the video and the pictures. Shock the whole damn country. What right do we have as a culture to avoid seeing what has been caused by our laws? The answer is we have none. We ought to be forced to confront what we are allowing. If we can look at a child whose face has been blown off, and still say it is necessary to preserve the Second Amendment, then we know what matters most in America. Oh, hell, we already know, but maybe showing the results of an AR-15 or a similar weapon vaporizing the flesh and bone of children and adults would give us an actual conscience.
I hate the idea. But how else will we generate a political change regarding guns? How do you reach the soulless people like the Texas governor and our U.S. senators and state legislators? Provide the walk-through video of the Allen mall shooting to every TV network, local station, and publisher in the country. Demand they show the unedited color videos of kids without faces, bodies blown in half, brain matter scattered across a wall, and then let Americans decide about the value of the Second Amendment. Let each one of us go to bed at night haunted by those images and wake up the next morning determined to affect change in gun safety laws.
Because, just now, no change is coming in Texas. The governor, Texas Greg Slaughter, told FOX News, there will be no new laws. And in the 48 hours after the Allen massacre, he answered one question, down in South Texas when he was at an event near Robstown to launch a new battery facility with Elon something or other. When he went up to the Dallas area the day after the shooting, he attended a church service for what amounted to a photo op, and took no questions, but the pastor and the congregation prayed for him and the other legislators present because they were carrying such a heavy burden of responsibility, which, to me, it seems like they’ve become quite adroit at avoiding.
Abbott’s initial response to the news was his usual vague and amorphous statement about the tragedy, which has become a characteristic of his administration. His heart is with the victims and the families, and law enforcement was brave and we’ll get through this together and be stronger. The usual meaningless claptrap that always leaves out any indication he will take even the slightest move to make it harder for crazy people to get their hands on AR-15s. He did that once, though, after the racist killer wiped out lives in El Paso. Abbott promised the community he would take steps to reduce future risk. His actions, however, were the opposite. After naming a commission to look at methods to reduce mass gun killings, he later signed into law a permit-less carry bill, which meant anyone with a blood pressure could get any gun they want because god gave them that right.
The commission gimmick is a bit too obsequious to think a politician will keep using it to calm down the public after a shooting, but that’s the standard practice in Texas. Abbott did say in Allen that there will be an investigation and officials will provide information that will lead to suggestions to help prevent such tragedies in the future. The same old head fake. I’ve got a suggestion: Stop selling automatic and semi-automatic weapons to any jackleg, swastika-tatooed looney who wants one. There’s a good start. Write a law or two to reduce odds that will happen again. Instead, Texans were presented with a measure from the current legislature that wants to pay teachers a $25,000 annual stipend if they bring guns to school.
Gun deaths have been going up since Texas Greg Slaughter took office, and went about his favorite political task of making it easier to get guns. In fact, the number of gun fatalities in Texas has climbed steadily since 2014; according to the CDC, the 2848 firearm deaths in this state that year are 1765 fewer than occurred in 2021, which is the latest year for which federal stats are available. The Texas total in 2021 was 4613 dead by gun, 1000 more than California, which finished a distant second in the grim race. We were, however, second to California in new gun purchases in 2015, which Abbott found disconcerting, and he addressed on Twitter.
“I’m EMBARRASSED: Texas #2 in nation for new gun purchases, behind CALIFORNIA. Let’s pick up the pace Texans,” he tweeted.
He is not embarrassed, however, by his inability to protect the citizens of his state. But he loves to play tough guy on the border. He rolls out the armored vehicles and soldiers in camo and state troopers who racially profile people living on the border. Two days had barely passed after the Allen shooting before Abbott was back in his element down on the border, holding a news conference to talk about more troops and a tougher crackdown. No questions, please. Just pictures of me here with cops and soldiers and this big ol’ military plane behind me. Don’t I look tough? Those hungry immigrants and their invading children don’t stand a chance against me and my razor wire and my amassing army.
It’s a typical political coward’s move to change the conversation away from guns and onto somebody his base can feel good about resisting. Don’t think it worked this time. Not going away. A Texas House committee passed a bill out to the floor for a debate and vote that raises the legal age to purchase an automatic weapon from 18 to 21. Let’s not get excited, though; the measure is most likely doomed in a floor vote, and even if it passed, the lesser governor, Dan Patrick, would not likely allow it to leave a Senate committee, much less to get a floor vote. Even if the miracle of passage occurred in both chambers, Texas Greg Slaughter would strike it down with his NRA insignia pen. The only good news was that two Republicans had joined Democrats to get the bill out of the house committee.
So, in the face of this intransigence, how do you build a political movement in Texas and beyond to create intelligent gun safety laws? If there can be slaughters at Uvalde and Sutherland Springs and El Paso and all of the other locations where innocents have fallen to evil, and nothing changes, what do you do? The answer is to take a radical, culturally shocking approach. Show the videos and photos of the dead on TV and on the Internet and in the small town papers. The Vietnam War would have ended years earlier if LBJ would have had to turn on his TV in the Oval Office and look at the mangled bodies of American boys; just the daily body count on the network newscasts helped to bring him down and get us out of Southeast Asia. Let’s show the damn horrific videos and make ourselves confront this great failure of our society, wipe out donations to the NRA, and make ourselves feel safer when we go out in the public. Because we don’t just tolerate gun tragedies in Texas, we facilitate them when we vote for Greg Abbott.
Which means we have control, and need to use it.