As Texas grapples with yet another mass shooting, leaders in the state have been coming forward with messages of support and concern. However, one state representative went over and beyond after he expressed support for the Second Amendment. The comments by Republican Matt Schaefer came after the Odessa shooting that left seven people dead. In a statement posted on his Facebook page, Schaefer noted that he “was praying that God would transform the hearts of people with evil intent.” The state rep went on to express his opposition to any gun control.
In the Facebook post, Schaefer said “NO to universal background checks, NO to banning AR15s and high-capacity magazines, and NO to mandatory gun buybacks.” The issue on universal background checks, in particular, caught the attention of most people. This is because most GOP lawmakers at the national level have expressed support for increased universal background checks. Even the president himself has said at some point that he would be willing to support universal background checks as part of a sweeping gun control law if passed in Congress.
Schaefer represents Texas’s District 6, an area located about 100 miles east of Dallas. He has held the seat since 2013. It’s not the first time though he’s expressing hardline right-wing ideas. In 2017, for example, Schaefer proposed a bill that required transgender people to use bathrooms corresponding to their sex gender at birth. He was also involved in putting up a bill in the Texas senate that pushed for stricter restrictions on abortion. With this kind of track record, it was expected that his views on guns would be just as far to the right as they can be.
The debate on tighter gun control has been raging in the US over the last few years. Just this year alone, the country has witnessed a total of 283 mass shootings, the highest in the world. But the subject of gun control seems to be off the minds of many republicans. In the wake of the El Paso and Dayton shootings that killed nearly 30 people, the GOP leadership including the president chose to focus on mental health as a possible issue as opposed to tighter gun control. President Trump even linked violent video games to the increasing wave of gun violence seen in the country in recent years.
But progressive Democrats are taking a different stance. According to most of them, the only way to cut gun violence in the US is to regulate and control access to guns. Beto O’Rourke, a Democratic presidential hopeful and former rep from Texas voiced his views after the Odessa shooting. O’Rourke, just like many other progressive Democrats, insisted on the need for tighter gun control including mandatory buyback programs for assault weapons.
Despite this, any form of sweeping gun legislation will have a very hard time passing through the Republican-dominated senate. But some Republicans have expressed their support for common-sense laws that touch on universal background checks.