Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, arguably the state’s most powerful politician, has been a reliable supporter of gun rights. But after shootings in El Paso and Odessa, he’s done an about-face on one key proposal.
It was revealed that the Odessa shooter, a prohibited person, bought the gun he used in a private sale. In a recent interview, Patrick has come out as a supporter of universal background checks.
On Friday, Patrick said it’s “common sense” to tighten background-check laws because in many instances, stranger-to-stranger sales now are exempt from the requirement that buyers be vetted through a federal database of people not eligible to purchase firearms.
Patrick wants to protect transfers among family members from triggering a check. He’d also continue to exempt friends, though he acknowledged that could be abused. Patrick, who presides over the Texas Senate, said he’s willing to accede to the preferences of senators on whether to maintain that loophole — and if so, exactly how.
But he said Texas must strongly discourage selling guns to strangers without a background check.
The NRA didn’t take long to fire back, issuing this statement.
With due respect, Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s “proposals” would resurrect the same broken, Bloomberg-funded failures that were attempted under the Obama administration. Like most political gambits, Lt. Gov. Patrick’s “solution” precedes his possession of the facts, including this critical concession by the Obama administration: Criminalizing private firearm transfers would require a massive, governmental gun registration scheme. Instead of trampling the freedom of law-abiding Americans, the government should focus upon actual solutions: fixing our broken mental health system, prosecuting known criminals and enforcing the existing gun laws that require follow-up whenever a prohibited person tries to buy a firearm. In the meantime, the NRA remains at the forefront of legitimate efforts to combat crime in our country. We encourage Lt. Gov. Patrick to join us in support of the same.
That’s a significant break between the distracted gun rights org (with its severely depleted lobbying arm) and Patrick. This is a split you might not have seen in the past when the NRA was operating at full strength.
Governor Abbott has resisted pressure to call a special legislative session on gun control. As the Texas Tribune reports,
Abbott this week issued eight executive orders in response to the shootings. Many were largely focused on strengthening law enforcement’s ability to respond to and prevent future shootings, mainly through improving reporting channels and closing “information gaps.” He is expected to release “legislative considerations” next week, but has so far signaled no interest in calling a special session soon. His office this week likened such a move to a “helter skelter approach that hastily calls for perfunctory votes that divide legislators along party lines.”
Don’t look for Abbott to give in to the pressure to call a special session. The Texas legislature, which meets only every two years, doesn’t convene again until 2021.