Republicans Pressuring Abbott Not to Call a Special Session on Gun Laws

While Texas Democrats are cranking up the heat on Gov. Abbott to call a special session of the Legislature to deal with gun violence, many Republicans are equally adamant that the governor should not take action, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.

The Republican House Speaker and Lieutenant Governor have appointed special interim committees to investigate whether tighter gun laws are needed in the wake of two mass shootings in the state in the past month, but the only way any proposals reached by the committees can become law, at least before the next regular session begins in 2021, is by calling a special session.

Mark Jones, a political analyst with Rice University, says there are political reasons for the governor not to call a special session.

"A red flag laws, at least other new laws that would make it harder for some people to get assault style rifles, by maybe closing the gun show loopholes," Jones said.

After it turned out that the Odessa gunman obtained the 'A-R style' weapon he used to killed seven people on Saturday after failing a background check due to 'mental health reasons,' that has given new emphasis to a red flag law, which could conceivably have stripped the weapon from the gunman, and new restrictions on the purchase of high powered weapons.

Rice says Texas Republicans don't want new gun ownership restrictions, but realize that the 'optics' of speaking out against those proposals following the two shootings may not be good going into the 2020 election season has Republicans saying that the best way not to put themselves on the spot would be for Abbott to ignore the call for a special session.

He says there are other reasons why a special session might not be in the best interests of the Texas GOP today.

"With the controversy surrounding Dennis Bonnen, I think the last thing the government would want would be a special session, which would essentially strip open all the wounds in the Texas GOP."

Bonnen, the Republican Speaker of the Texas House, has been accused of offering unique House access to a hard-right PAC, in exchange for the PAC supporting conservative challengers to ten moderate House Republicans. Democrats are demanding an investigation, a demand that would become a lot louder with all of the state's lawmakers gathered at the Capitol for a special session.

And it is clear that the special committees would not stop at investigating red flag laws and gun ownership restrictions.

State Rep Barbara Gervin-Hawkins (D-San Antonio) says any examination must go deeper.

"Why our young people feel disconnected?" she asked. "Why would people feel so hateful and so angry to just kill random people."

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