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The Republican House member who represents Uvalde, Texas, where 19 kids and 2 adults were shot to death in an elementary school on Tuesday, has said in the past that he will vote against any gun safety legislation in Congress.
In September 2021, Rep. Tony Gonzales tweeted in response to a provision on firearms included in that year's annual defense spending bill, "I will fight against any attempt to restrict our 2nd Amendment right, which is why I joined in urging the stripping of red flag laws from the final version of the bill." Gonzales was one of 161 Republican House members who signed a letter to the leadership of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees in October of that year urging that the provision be removed.
The "red flag" provision would have allowed military judges to temporarily confiscate guns from members of the military or their dependents against whom an order of protection had been issued. Republicans successfully stripped it from the bill.
It wasn't the first time Gonzales had opposed gun safety measures.
In March 2021, Gonzales spotlighted his votes against two gun safety bills passed by the Democratic-controlled House that have yet to be taken up in a Senate in which Republicans maintain the power to block legislation via filibuster.
"I voted against the Democrats's [sic] two gun control bills today. These bills would put more restrictions on law-abiding citizens and fail to make us safer," Gonzales tweeted.
The first bill Gonzales voted against would strengthen background checks for gun purchasers, a measure that enjoys broad public support.
The second would close the so-called "Charleston loophole," which allows gun sellers to complete the sale of firearms if the FBI background check on the purchaser is not completed within three days. The name of the loophole refers to the mass killing of nine people at a Black church in Charleston, South Carolina, in 2015 by a white supremacist gunman who was prohibited by law from purchasing a firearm but was able to do so before a background check was completed.
After the Uvalde shooting, Gonzales refused to talk about his gun record or gun safety legislation.
"I'm happy to debate policy, but not today," Gonzales told CBS News' Gayle King.
Gonzales represents Texas' 23rd Congressional District, which runs along the state's border with Mexico.
Prior to the redistricting process following the 2020 census, the 23rd District was a competitive seat that Hillary Clinton carried by 3 points in 2016 and Donald Trump by 2 points in 2020. FiveThirtyEight said the old seat had a five-point Republican edge.
However, Republicans in Texas redrew the seat from one that FiveThirtyEight said had had a five-point Republican advantage to one that now has a 13-point GOP lean.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.
Not long after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and his entourage showed up on a stage in Uvalde, Texas, to offer the usual thoughts and prayers that follow a gun massacre, Democratic rival Beto O'Rourke suddenly strode up to confront him.
Pointing a finger at the governor, he yelled: "You're offering us nothing!"
A native of El Paso, where a white supremacist gunman murdered 23 people and injured 23 more at a Walmart in 2019, O'Rourke is way past fed up with Republican refusal to pass gun safety legislation of any kind.
"The time to stop the next shooting is now, and you are doing nothing," O'Rourke said, quite truthfully, before he was escorted out of the press conference by security.
Predictably, the Republicans present reacted with scorn. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) told O'Rourke, who came close to defeating him in 2018, to "sit down," while Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick scolded the Democrat as "out of line and an embarrassment."
Following O'Rourke's departure Abbott went into saccharine mode: "There's no words anybody shouting can come up here — and do anything — to heal those broken hearts." But O'Rourke had no time for the governor's feeble condolences.
"I want us to do something right now," he said after leaving the auditorium. "We can do something right now. But if we continue to accept this, it is on us. It's not just the governor's fault, it is on us. I'm not going to accept it, so I'm here, I'm calling attention to it....And I'm calling on all Texans of good conscience — and I could care less whether you're a Republican, a Democrat or an independent — to stand up right now for yourself, for your kids, for our families and to stop the next shooting just like this one."
As O'Rourke said, the lax gun laws and regulations promoted by Abbott, Cruz, and Patrick have only made things much worse.
Action to stop gun violence, or more thoughts and prayers and NRA money? That seems like a simple choice, as we bury a couple dozen more innocent victims of American apathy.