Four days after a gunman opened fire on a crowd of Las Vegas concertgoers, the congressional delegation representing Galveston County was advocating waiting before any discussion about tightening gun-control laws.
Like most other Republicans in Washington, Texas’ two senators said the days immediately after one of the deadliest mass shootings in the United States is not the time to talk about legislation. At least 58 people were killed, and more than 500 people were injured.
Sen. Ted Cruz told TIME magazine Tuesday the Las Vegas shooting was “not an excuse for Democrats to try and strip away Second Amendment rights from law-abiding citizens.”
On Monday, Sen. John Cornyn said talking about new regulations immediately after the shooting was “beyond disgusting.”
“We ought to wait a respectful period of time, out of respect for people who lost their lives or were injured before we get into the push and shove of politics around here,” Cornyn said.
On Wednesday afternoon, Cornyn said he might be willing to discuss legislation on “bump stocks,” devices that allow gun owners to modify semi-automatic rifles to fire more rapidly.
Las Vegas shooter Stephen Paddock, 64, apparently used at least one weapon outfitted with a bump stock to achieve a rate of fire near that of a fully automatic rifle, according to reports.
A spokeswoman for U.S. Rep. Randy Weber said Wednesday he would consider proposals to reduce shooting deaths “holistically.”
“He is a staunch supporter of the Second Amendment, and he will not curtail the rights of citizens to legally own a weapon,” Emma Polefko said. “We cannot write enough laws to prevent criminal activity from happening; by the very nature of crime, laws are being broken.”
There’s little indication that any new gun legislation will be passed after Las Vegas, although President Donald Trump said Tuesday his administration would talk about gun laws “as time goes by.”
Congress hasn’t approved any new federal gun control rules since 2007, when it approved a regulation to improve the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.
Both Cruz and Cornyn voted against bills in 2013 that are often pointed to as the closest Congress has come to passing new rules. The bills, proposed after the Sandy Hook shootings, would have expanded background checks for gun buyers, banned the sale of assault weapons and banned the sale of ammunition magazines that carry more than 10 rounds. They all failed to reach a 60-vote majority in the Senate, and were never voted on in the House of Representatives.
ON THE OTHER SIDE
The Texas delegation has proposed rules that would loosen gun laws in different ways.
A Cornyn-introduced bill, called the “Constitutional Conceal Carry Reciprocity Act,” would require authorities to recognize gun permits across state lines. That bill, which was introduced in February and was nearing a vote in the Senate, could now be delayed, according to Politico.
That bill was one of two criticized by former NASA astronaut and one-time Galveston County resident Mark Kelly during a news conference Monday.
“Incredibly, Congress is currently working on legislation that would weaken our gun laws,” Kelly said. “Imagine the confusion for first responders if they arrived on the scene to a bunch of civilians wielding their own guns, attempting to return fire.”
Kelly is married to former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who survived an assassination attempt in 2011. They are major advocates for new gun laws.
A bill that would outlaw abortion after the 20th week of pregnancy passed the U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday in a 237-189 vote.
U.S. Rep. Randy Weber voted for the bill.
“This bill protects the fundamental American belief that we have an unalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” Weber said. “As endowed by our creator, this right starts at the moment of conception, and absolutely exists at 20 weeks.”
In a statement, Weber said the “science is clear” that a fetus can feel pain at 20 weeks, though studies cited by the bill’s critics say otherwise.
A 2005 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association said: “Evidence regarding the capacity for fetal pain is limited but indicates that fetal perception of pain is unlikely before the third trimester.”
The bill is supported by anti-abortion groups, and President Donald Trump has promised to sign it if it reaches his desk.
However, the bill has almost no chance of passing the Senate, where it would require 60 votes to be approved. Republicans control 54 seats in the Senate.
The Texas House of Representatives has held multiple committee meetings in Houston this week to discuss actions the state might have to take to help with Hurricane Harvey recovery.
The hearings have included testimony from officials from Harris, Jefferson, Orange, Jasper, Newton and Fort Bend counties — but not, so far, from Galveston County.
Galveston County Judge Mark Henry said on Monday he had not been aware about a meeting of the House Appropriations committee on Monday at the University of Houston until about 20 minutes before it was set to start.
Dickinson Mayor Julie Masters did attend a meeting of the House Urban Affairs committee on Monday, but told The Daily News her testimony was a “last-minute thing”.
The inclusion of Galveston County officials will be something to watch as recovery continues and money begins to be distributed to around Texas.