With the March 6 primary just days away, candidates are spending their time pushing their positions on statewide issues. The recent deadly mass shooting at a Florida high school prompted the two Democratic frontrunners in the race for governor to press for changes to Texas’ gun laws.
Houston businessman Andrew White, son of late Gov. Mark White, urged Gov. Greg Abbott to convene an “emergency special session to pass common sense gun safety legislation” before the next regular session in 2019. White met with members of Moms Demand Action, a national organization demanding laws that prevent gun violence.
With local members of the group standing on either side on Monday, White said it was possible to support both the Second Amendment and gun legislation.
“The governor is in charge of the safety of 5 million school kids in Texas, and yet he’s too afraid to do anything about it because he’s protecting his A+ NRA rating,” White said.
Representatives for Abbott did not respond to the comments as of Monday night.
White also said he supported raising the age to buy an assault rifle from 18 to 21. Both White and fellow Democratic gubernatorial candidate Lupe Valdez, the former sheriff of Dallas County, argued for universal background checks, restrictions on high-capacity magazines and banning bump-stocks. A bump stock attaches to a semi-automatic rifle, increasing the firing speed, which draws comparisons to a fully automatic rifle when installed on the rifle.
“High schoolers and victims of gun violence shouldn’t have to demand policy that protects our families and children after every tragedy,” Valdez said through a written statement from a spokesperson. “We need a comprehensive approach to gun violence, instead of a reactive approach.”
Other Democratic candidates in the race have weighed in on this issue. Jeffrey Payne’s campaign website was updated after the shooting in Florida to reflect a goal of implementing legislation that would “not infringe on the right to own guns, but should enhance our community safety.”
Following the deadly Florida attack, Abbott asserted a need to look into mental health as a factor in violence. He also ordered the Texas Education Agency to work to ensure the safety of students and called for fixes to the nationwide background check database.
Abbott met with President Donald Trump along with other governors at the White House on Monday and addressed the topic of school safety relating to weapons.
“Texas authorized schools to adopt policies to implement a school marshal program where individuals would be trained to have a weapon and to be able to use that weapon,” Abbott touted. “And we now have well over a hundred school districts in the state of Texas where teachers or other people who work in the school do carry a weapon, and are trained to be able to respond to an attack that occurs.”
Abbott said the program was “well-thought-out,” that came with “a lot of training in advance.”
Trump voiced his support for Abbott’s comments.
“Well, I think that’s great,” Trump said. “And so, essentially, what you’re saying is that when a sick individual comes into that school, they can expect major trouble. Right? Major trouble. The bullets are going to be going toward him, also. And I think that’s great. And you know what’s going to happen? Nobody is going into that school, Greg. That’s a big difference.”