AUSTIN, Texas — Texas Republicans continue to represent a serious threat to public safety. Today, just one week after the mass shooting in Bryan, Republicans in the Texas House are advancing permitless carry legislation — opposed by advocates and police officers alike — which would make it dangerously easy for anyone 21 years or older to carry a handgun in public. Gov. Greg Abbott has consistently led the charge for these dangerous rollbacks in gun safety laws — including tweeting a call for fewer gun safety measures mere hours before the shooting in Bryan last week.
Today’s vote to gut safety measures on handguns came less than three hours after an individual with “a lot of ammunition and a big hand gun” began “firing indiscriminately at people outside San Antonio International Airport.”
Republicans’ reckless approach to gun safety is part of a longtime pattern of putting profit over people, and putting Texans in harm’s way — seen in Abbott’s catastrophic mismanagement of the pandemic, and most recently in his failed response to the winter storm crisis. However, faced with the consequences of his bad governance, Abbott’s response has been simply to do more of the same. After profit-driven deregulation of the Texas grid cost nearly 200 Texans their lives during February’s storm, Abbott recently announced the appointment of both a former oil executive, Peter Lake, and a dyed-in-the-wool Republican insider, Will McAdams, to the Public Utility Commission.
This week, as we mark two months since the first outages hit Texas in February, we’re looking at a condensed timeline of Republican inaction which ultimately led to the deaths of almost 200 Texans in this year’s weather and energy crisis — and which continues today:
February 2011: After a winter storm causes widespread power outages across Texas, a public inquiry shows that the Texas grid needs to be weatherized to prevent a similar crisis from happening again. Texas Republicans in power refuse to heed these warnings — preferring to keep the grid deregulated to maximize industry profits at the expense of Texans’ safety and emergency preparedness.
February 2021: Ten years later, a new storm hits. But when winter weather threatens Texas, Abbott refuses to help people prepare and keep Texans safe — instead taking advice from a fringe, climate-denying, Fox News meteorologist at Ted Cruz’s recommendation. Millions of Texans spend days without power, water, or heat in subfreezing temperatures. Public inquiries once again show that the Texas grid was not properly weatherized to guard against extreme temperature changes, and call for weatherization measures — key safety precautions that Republicans continue to refuse to implement, instead prioritizing industry profits.
March 2021: As winter storm deaths are slowly tallied, the death count of Texans who lost their lives on Greg Abbott’s watch rises to nearly 200 — most from hypothermia, others from failed medical equipment due to lack of power, or from carbon monoxide poisoning as Texans tried to stay warm.
April 2021: The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) once again warns Texans of potential power outages, raising the spectre of the terrifying experience Texans went through barely two months ago, and reminding us that the state’s Republican-designed deregulated electric grid is woefully unprepared to handle the next weather crisis.
April 2021: Failed Gov. Greg Abbott announces new Public Utility Commission appointments that smack of the same bad Republican governance that caused February’s disaster. The insider appointments of Peter Lake, a former oil executive, and Will McAdams, former aide to disgraced speaker Dennis Bonnen, suggest Texas Republicans have no intention of changing their mismanagement of the Texas grid — despite the many Texas lives lost because of their prioritization of profit over people.
Texas Democratic Party Chair Gilberto Hinojosa issued the following statement:
“For far too long, Greg Abbott and the rest of Texas Republicans have put profit, and politics, over people. Their selfish refusal to do their jobs and put Texans first has cost Texans their lives. This week marks two months since the devastating winter storm first hit our state in February — and two months later, Texans are still struggling with massive electric bills, still scrambling to pay for damage to their homes and cars, and still grieving loved ones they lost during the crisis.
“Greg Abbott leaves Texans to die. That’s what he did during the winter storm. It’s what he’s done all throughout the pandemic. Now, by rolling back common-sense gun regulations, he’s throwing us in harm’s way again. This is the opposite of leadership, and it’s putting all of us in danger. Texans deserve better.”