The last time Texas saw such a bloody massacre, it was 1991.
Lawmakers’ response: They gave 1.2 million Texans guns.
A generation later, the Haltom City insurance agent who co-sponsored that 1995 law said he believes Texas is careful about who carries a handgun.
If only the federal government were more careful about who buys one.
“What happened is awful,” said retired state Rep. Bill Carter, 89, of Fort Worth. He was talking about the killing of 26 worshippers, eight of them children, in seven minutes of mayhem Sunday at a small-town Baptist church near San Antonio.
“There are a lot of places where this threat” — from a former mental patient convicted of beating his wife and child — “could have been stopped,” Carter said.
I’m not so sure.
It’s tough to believe that even a reliable federal background check system would have stopped the 26-year-old gunman — no need to repeat his name — from carrying out twisted vengeance against worshippers in the Sutherland Springs Baptist Church.
But it definitely wouldn’t have been so easy for him to buy four guns in the last four years, a handgun and Ruger AR-556 rifle in Texas and a pistol and revolver in Colorado Springs, Colo.
Former Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson, now 70, was the Houston-area senator who wrote the final version of Texas’ handgun-license law, which passed the Senate 23-7. (Fort Worth Democrat Sen. Mike Moncrief was a co-author.)
“This is another gut punch,” Patterson said Thursday by phone.
“You think of the children screaming and crying — this is like Sandy Hook to me.”
He has a to-do list after the church killings and the Oct. 1 shooting that killed 58 at a country music concert in Las Vegas.
“Ban bump stocks — that’s a no-brainer,” he said, referring to Moran-based Slide Fire’s accessory that adapts a semiautomatic rifle to fire like an automatic. (Twelve rifles in the Vegas shooting had bump stocks.)
Second: Fix the NICS, the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System.
When a buyer’s name is flagged in the system, the FBI has three days to verify the data.
“Why not make that five days? Give them more time,” Patterson said.
“I know people are saying Texas shouldn’t allow open carry of long guns at all. But do you think a guy like that is worried about a misdemeanor arrest for carrying a long gun?”
Obviously he wasn’t worried about laws, or licenses, or lives.
But we can only worry about the next guy.