After weeks of principled inaction, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s Senate Select Committee on Mass Violence Prevention and Community Safety will hold its first hearing on Thursday.
The committee was formed as a response to the El Paso and Odessa shootings in August and was ostensibly charged with examining ways to prevent mass shootings.
However, the mandate Patrick has given his pack of toothless lawmakers is a bit of a head-scratcher.
Patrick’s attempts to pass the buck for the moral failings of society to the media of the day are part of a long tradition of politicians vilifying the media for society’s ills.
This tradition of using art and artists as scapegoats directly led to the Hays Code, which prevented a movie from “lowering the moral standards of those who see it” and required all films to portray the “correct standards of life.”
The desire to find fault in the portrayals of society rather than in society itself resulted in a noted psychiatrist testifying before a U.S. Senate subcommittee that “Hitler was a beginner compared to the comic book industry.”
Along with attacking interactive media, Patrick wants his committee to explore whether or not prohibiting people from wearing masks will deter violence.
Along with asking lawmakers to assess how the “overall fraying culture” is contributing to mass shootings, Patrick has spent the last few weeks trying to turn his luke-warm stance on background checks into a solidly milquetoast appeal to an imaginary majority.
In a recent interview with Lubbock-based right-wing talker Chad Hasty, Patrick began tap dancing with poll numbers when challenged about his support for background checks in so-called “stranger-to-stranger” gun sales.
Instead of taking a principled stance in favor of requiring background checks for all gun sales, Patrick cited a Fox News poll that showed 90 percent of people support expanding background checks.
Despite the impressive amount of cover the poll provides Patrick, he still wants to make a friends and family plan for background check exemptions. Under Patrick’s proposal, anyone selling a weapon to a “friend” or “family member” won’t have to perform a background check.
Patrick has never explained how anyone will be to prove that two people are actually friends or that a gun buyer isn’t the seller’s third cousin, twice removed.