In the aftermath of mass shootings, political responses have tended to fall along predictable lines, but have rarely led to changes in policy designed to address the threat of violence. But some officeholders and candidates believe the Uvalde tragedy presents an opportunity to reach a limited consensus.
Mike Collier is the Democratic candidate for Texas lieutenant governor. He says he believes there can be consensus between Democratic and Republican lawmakers when it comes to universal background checks and red flag laws for gun purchasers, as well as safe storage laws for firearms.
“The vast majority of Texans demand this. Our children are not safe in the schools. Our teachers are not safe, and they’re looking for a vote. We know exactly what to do. We just need a vote,” Collier said in an interview with Texas Standard.
Gov. Greg Abbott has announced several initiatives to further “harden schools” and ramp up active shooter training and drills in Texas public schools. He’s also called on the Texas House and Senate to create special committees during the state legislature’s interim to examine school safety, mental health, social media, police training and firearm safety. Both chambers have complied. Meanwhile, Collier’s opponent in the general election, Lt Gov. Dan Patrick, is requesting $50 million for the Department of Public Safety for more bulletproof windshields on DPS vehicles.
“We’re doing a terrible job in the state with mental health that’s very well established. I support law enforcement. They need to have the equipment and the training and the trust. But shields alone is just a fake… It’s a head fake. It’s insulting.” Collier said. “That is not the heart of the problem. And Dan Patrick knows it. He’s just trying to buy time because he refuses to do anything.”
Meanwhile, Collier said if elected as lieutenant governor, he does want to avoid gridlock over gun policy in what would still be a majority Republican Texas House and Senate. Following a mass shooting at an El Paso Walmart, then presidential candidate, and current Democratic gubernatorial candidate, Beto O’Rourke said he would “take away” peoples AR-15s and AK-47s.
“If we go down that path, it will only lead to gridlock. There’s no question. And I think there are folks out there that want us to get into gridlock. I want to avoid gridlock,” Collier said.
“I mean, in Texas, we agree on very, very powerful steps to keep our children safe and our school safe. Background check system that works, raise the age waiting period, etc.”
The Texas Standard has reached out to Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and House Speaker Dade Phelan for interviews. Those requests have not been granted at this time.
Listen to the full interview in the audio player above.