At one point, Lt. Governor Dan Patrick looked like he might be the rare Republican that was willing to make a stand on gun control. That stand has failed to materialize.
In 2019, Patrick seemed ready to tackle the alarming increase in gun violence that has dominated the state since Governor Greg Abbott took office. In an interview with The Dallas Morning News, he stated his support for increased background checks and closing loopholes around private gun sales. His statements were immediately denounced by everyone from the National Rifle Association to Senator Ted Cruz, but Patrick remained firm and said he was “willing to take an arrow” on the subject.
Four years later, this principled stand has failed to materialize. Patrick has repeatedly failed to talk about background checks or closing the loophole while serving as head of the Texas Senate. Instead, he oversaw a crippling of existing gun control, including passing permitless carry.
Since that bill became law, mass shootings in Texas have increased by 62.5 percent. Yet, the only movement Patrick has made that could even sort of be considered gun control is for adding more security to Texas schools, and a proposal for a mandatory 10-year sentence for gun crimes that does not appear to be going anywhere. Several bills and amendments have come up proposing the exact background checks that Patrick said he championed, usually after a mass killing. At no point has Patrick ever put his weight behind any of them to help them pass. Even when a bill making it mandatory to report stolen guns found no help from Patrick, who declared it dead on arrival.
Many common sense gun control measures remain popular, even in Texas. Background checks poll consistently at more than 50 percent both nationwide and in the Lone Star State. After every mass shooting since El Paso, Texas Democratic Party Chair Gilberto Hinojosa has called for something, anything to be done, though these calls have not produced any real movement. Every statement tends to be extremely mollifying of gun rights.
Every measurable metric shows that easy access to guns in Texas has contributed to the level of violence in both individual and mass shootings. Despite making noise about wanting tighter restrictions on potentially dangerous gun buyers, he did so at a time when the legislature wasn’t even in session and re-election was years away. In the aftermath of two high profile massacres, he has not made good on his promises to increase background checks.
Instead, he has relied on platitudes about communities needing more religion or less political divisiveness. Just as Abbott lays all the blame for gun violence on mental health, since 2019, Patrick has consistently sought any other scapegoat other than lax gun laws to explain away the bloodshed that is currently drowning Texas. Meanwhile, victims’ families keep asking why he broke his promise.