Governor Greg Abbott’s attempt to blame anger and mental health issues for the string of mass shootings that have taken place in Texas has struck a visceral nerve. This year, at least 12 deadly shootings have occurred in the state that boasts 18 as the legal age to purchase a weapon. The most recent took place yesterday.
On Saturday (May 6), at least eight people were killed, and several others were seriously injured when a gunman opened fire inside the Allen Premium Outlets. The victims range in age from 5 to 61 years old. Videos of the chaotic scene circulating online show groves of people running for their lives as shots ring out. Less than 24 hours after an officer fatally wounded the shooter, Abbott appeared on “Fox News Sunday,” where he skirted addressing the mass shooting as a symptom of lax gun laws.
“What Texas is doing in a big-time way, we are working to address that anger and violence but going to its root cause, which is addressing the mental health problems behind it,” said the Republican governor. “People want a quick solution. The long-term solution here is to address the mental health issue,” he reiterated. Abbott also suggested “to get guns out of the hands of dangerous criminals and to increase penalties for criminals who possess guns” as another hypothetical effort to thwart mass shootings from happening.
— The Saturday/Sunday Show with Jonathan Capehart (@weekendcapehart) May 7, 2023
Self-identified gun lover Steven Spainhouer was at the outlet after the unthinkable struck the suburb located north of Dallas. His son works at the shopping center’s H&M and was on shift when shots rang out. Spainhouer arrived moments later and tried to help the victims. During the horrid scene, he located a child who had been covered by her deceased mother. He told “The Sunday Show With Jonathan Capehart” that mental health was not to blame for the massacre he witnessed.
“I don’t know what the gunman’s problem was; I don’t know his motives, but it wasn’t mental health that killed those people. It was an automatic rifle with bullets. That’s what killed them,” he said. Spainhouer is a former police officer and retired Army officer who has a wealth of experience with guns. He noted that war weapons, which have often been the choice of mass shooters, have no place in the hands of civilians.
“These M4s, AR-15s, they’ve got to get off the streets, or this is going to keep happening. And we’ve got to stop that at some point. It could be you. It could be your family member. I never imagined it would be. I never imagined it would happen in my community, but it did, and we’ve got to stop this type of carnage,” he added.
The heroic father then turned his focus to politicians, who have the power to enact stricter gun laws. Spainhouer continued, “And all the [politicians] are going to make statements; you’re gonna offer prayers and condolences. Condolences won’t bring these people back. We need some action in our legislatures at the federal and state levels for better gun control. And I’m saying that as somebody who loves guns.”
Abbott, who has been in office since 2015, has firmly stood in opposition to increasing the legal age to purchase guns to 21. Following the devastation caused by the shooting at Robb Elementary, he said that it was unconstitutional to pass legislation addressing the age limit. “Ever since Texas has been a state, an 18-year-old has had the ability to buy a long gun, a rifle. Since that time, it seems like it’s only been in the past decade or two that we’ve had school shootings,” he said at an Aug. 2022 reelection event.
Last week, the Texas community of San Jacinto was on high alert after Francisco Oropeza allegedly killed five of his neighbors. Authorities say one of the residents made a noise complaint after Oropeza refused to stop firing a gun outside. He killed each of the victims execution-style with a rifle before leading police on a multiday manhunt. The 38-year-old faces five counts of first-degree murder. His bond was set at $7.5 million.
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