The most prominent response to Friday’s shooting that left 10 dead at Santa Fe High School came from the state’s lieutenant governor, Dan Patrick. Speaking to reporters the afternoon of the shooting, Patrick called not for gun regulation, but door regulation.
“We’re going to have to look at the design of our schools moving forward, and retrofitting schools,” Patrick said. “What I mean by that is that there are too many entrances and too many exits to our over 8,000 campuses in Texas. There aren’t enough people to put a guard at every entrance and exit … Maybe we need to look at limiting the entrances and the exits to our schools so that we can have law enforcement looking at the people who come in one or two entrances.”
WATCH: After another school shooting, Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick says designs of schools have to be reviewed, looking at ways to limit entrances and exits, and perhaps limiting to a single entrance for students: “We’re going to have to be creative.” https://t.co/4XyS5FT1UN pic.twitter.com/HZ8Vea5gru
— NBC News (@NBCNews) May 18, 2018
That night, Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo offered a far different take, pleading for gun control in an emotional post on his Facebook page. “I know some have strong feelings about gun rights but I want you to know I’ve hit rock bottom and I am not interested in your views as it pertains to this issue,” he wrote.
“I have never accepted the status-quo in anything I do and I’ve never accepted defeat,” he continued. “And I won’t do it now. I will continue to speak up and will stand up for what my heart and my God commands me to do, and I assure you he hasn’t instructed me to believe that gun-rights are bestowed by him.”
Though Acevado wrote in an email to the New York Times that he received “overwhelming positive feedback” for his post, it is likely to fall on deaf ears in the Texas legislature, where the state’s elected officials have continued to rally around gun rights as the nation’s mass shooting epidemic worsens.
With a dearth of gun control proponents in positions of power, Acevedo has emerged as the state’s leading voice for reform following the shooting that took place 35 miles from the city whose police department he manages. After posting his message to Facebook Friday night, Acevedo on Sunday appeared on CBS’s Face the Nation.
“I think that the American people, gun owners, the vast majority of which are pragmatic and actually support gun sense and gun reform in terms of keeping guns in the right hands,” he said. “We need to start using the ballot box and ballot initiatives to take the matters out of the hands of people that are doing nothing that are elected into the hands of the people to see that the will of the people in this country is actually carried out.”
After he expressed a desire to limit the number of entrances to the state’s schools, Patrick spent the weekend appearing on national TV, where he blamed mass shootings on just about everything but the weapons being used to carry them out.
“We have devalued life, whether it’s through abortion, whether it’s the breakup of families, through violent movies, and particularly violent video games,” he told George Stephanopoulos on ABC’s
Texas Lt. Gov. @DanPatrick: “Should we be surprised in this nation?” following deadly shooting in Texas, adding Americans have “devalued life.”
“Whether it’s through abortion, whether it’s the break-up of families, through violent movies, and particularly violent video games.” pic.twitter.com/EBjcSRzcgN
— This Week (@ThisWeekABC) May 20, 2018
Patrick also stopped by CNN’s State of the Union, where he proposed arming teachers as a way to deter gun violence in schools, a measure that became popular among gun rights activists following the February 14th shooting at Stoneman Douglass High School in Parkland, Florida.
— CNN Breaking News (@cnnbrk) May 20, 2018
At the top of the food chain in Texas politics is Gov. Greg Abbott, who has built his political persona around not only preserving gun rights, but expanding them. “I will sign whatever legislation reaches my desk that expands Second Amendment rights in Texas,” Abbott said after taking office in 2015. The same year, he tweeted that he was “EMBARRASSED” that his state didn’t lead the nation in gun sales.
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) October 28, 2015
Following Friday’s shooting, Abbott called for a series of roundtable discussions about how to curb gun violence. “We want to hear from parents, we want to hear from students, we want to hear from educators, we want to hear from concerned citizens, we want to hear from those who hold the Second Amendment right in high esteem,” Abbott told reporters on Sunday. “We want to hear from everybody.”
It’s unclear whether gun control will be discussed as part of these roundtable sessions, but it’s not likely.
The state’s highest profile showdown at the ballot box this year will be when upstart Democrat Beto O’Rouke attempts to unseat prominent Senate Republican Ted Cruz this November. For one of the nation’s most conservative states to elect a Democratic senator would be a significant milestone, and early polls have O’Rouke trailing Cruz by only a few percentage points. The latter, who has represented Texas in the Senate since 2013, received an A+ rating from the NRA and, as part of his 2016 presidential campaign, filmed a video of himself wrapping bacon around the barrel of a semi-automatic rifle as a means of cooking it. (O’Rourke has an F.)
“We will make it through this,” Cruz said in response to Friday’s shooting.