Skip Navigation

How Will Texas Stop the Threat?

Originally published in the Houston Courant.

A year ago, on August 3, a deranged attacker entered an El Paso Walmart on a mission to destroy the defenseless. As a result, 23 people died and 23 were injured. Countless others were left to mourn the shocking loss of their loved ones.

Following this madman’s horrifying actions, Texas’ top-level elected officials set up legislative committees and executive commissions to study why this attack happened and how to prevent such attacks in the future.

Unfortunately, they failed to understand the cause or the cure.

This attacker, who does not deserve to have his name in print, expressed a colossal disregard for the value of human life. This is clear from his actions: gunning down shoppers who are picking up back-to-school supplies is unthinkable for anyone with a shred of respect for fellow humans. And his written manifesto is dripping with disdain for humans who don’t look like him.

His manifesto also makes it clear that he hates the very purpose of our country: to be a refuge of liberty and land of opportunity. His elitist mindset is the exact opposite of the hope and beautiful welcome America has always held out to those coming to our country for the hope of a better life.

The attacker intentionally picked a place where he could prey on the defenseless.

Although the Walmart is not technically a “gun-free” zone, the specific one he picked shared a parking lot with the Cielo Vista Mall, which is posted as a “gun-free” business. So, law-abiding citizens shopping in both the mall and Walmart would have likely left their handguns in their car. He also drove 650 miles out of his way to find a Walmart close to the border that would be filled with shoppers from Mexico who wouldn’t have their Texas carry license.

Thus, it was a “gun-limited” zone in which many innocent, precious people would be defenseless. The manifesto shows that this choice was absolutely on purpose:

“Don’t attack heavily guarded areas to fulfill your super soldier COD fantasy. Attack low security targets. . .. Do not throw away your life on an unnecessarily dangerous target. If a target seems too hot, live to fight another day.”

All of these facts strongly point to the need for a government response of protecting individual rights — which happens to be the very purpose of government.

An appropriate government response to the attack would have started with understanding that hate-filled attackers have no regard for life and want to destroy our communities, but they are cowardly enough that they want to find the easy targets. They’re much more likely to attack people who aren’t prepared to defend themselves.

Thus, encouraging and enabling people to defend themselves would be the logical response. Texans are safer and less likely to be a target when they’re armed.

Instead, the commissions and committees studying the issue of “mass violence prevention and community safety” were sent looking in the wrong direction from the outset.

It’s very telling that Governor Abbott’s Texas Safety Commission initially included a gun control organization but no representation from the gun rights perspective. Although he added such representation after enormous grassroots outcry, that certainly doesn’t give us confidence that he wants to use his office to protect individual rights.

Likewise, Lt. Governor Patrick and Speaker Bonnen assigned their committees to study a list of topics centered around creating more laws to restrict gun ownership and use. (See the Senate committee topics and the House committee topics.) These policies only make victims more defenseless. They don’t stop the criminals, who don’t bother to obey laws.

Because of the unending shutdowns, the legislative committees have halted their public hearings, but they still say they plan to give legislative recommendations at some point in the future.

Their recommendations need to include repealing the dangerous policies of government-manded “gun-free” zones and of gun carry only for the elite (those with licenses to carry).

El Pasoans — and all Texans — deserve to be able to defend themselves against any attackers who disregard the value of human life.