Wednesday, March 22, 2023
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Texas Gov. Abbott Slams Soft-on-Crime Officials for Failure to Enforce Gun Laws

'Some want more gun laws, but too many local officials won’t even enforce the gun laws that are already on the books...'

(Headline USA) Texas’s Republican Gov. Greg Abbott offered no hints about whether he might run for president in a rare primetime address Thursday night. Instead, he used his biennial State of the State address to make a case that common-sense immigration measures, tougher criminal penalties and a humming state economy are a model for the rest of the U.S.

“We will ensure Texas remains the leader of this nation as an unflinching force in this world,” Abbott said during the broadcast.

The speech drew applause from inside a Texas factory that Abbott chose as the backdrop to lay out his third-term agenda.

Abbott hammered soft-on-crime lawmakers, prosecutors and other top officials in “sanctuary” cities like Houston and the border town of El Paso for failing to act as crime epidemics overtake their communities.

The speech came a day after gunfire at an El Paso mall left one person dead and three others injured, a shooting that took place across a large parking lot from the Walmart where 23 people were killed in a 2019 attack.

It also followed a news cycle in which Democrats and their media allies nationwide continued to push for greater gun restrictions, using the failures of blue-run states and cities as their justification.

A recent mass-shooting in Michigan by an aggrieved African–American man, Anthony McRae, left three college students dead; and Buffalo, N.Y., mass-shooter Payton Gendron, a self-avowed leftist, was sentenced to life for killing 10 people in a racially-motivated grocery-store attack.

It also coincided with the fifth anniversary of a Parkland, Fla., school shooting that killed 17 after a mentally deranged former student, Nikolas Cruz, went unflagged because of Obama-era policies designed to hold students less accountable.

“Some want more gun laws, but too many local officials won’t even enforce the gun laws that are already on the books,” Abbott said in his address.

Although Abbott also used the speech to name school safety a priority for Texas lawmakers to tackle over the next three months—in the aftermath of last May’s mass-shooting at a Uvalde elementary school—he did not lay out any specific proposals and reiterated a general opposition to new restrictions on firearms.

For most governors, the State of the State rarely strays from pomp and tradition, serving as part highlight reel of past achievements and part unveiling of new priorities. Most are delivered in state capitols to an audience of newly elected legislators—as formerly was the case in Texas.

Abbott, however, has not only reimagined them as made-for-TV, but taken the show on the road. His speech Thursday was broadcast from a manufacturing plant in San Marcos, along the booming corridor between Austin and San Antonio that has become a sprawling symbol of Texas’s turbocharged growth the last two decades.

Reporters were not granted access to the speech. Nearby, open-borders activists organized a small protest over Abbott’s pro-enforcement measures on the U.S.–Mexico border.

Texas Democrats, who two years ago staged a melodramatic 38-day walkout in the state House to temporarily stall a GOP package of new election-integrity measures, remain heavily outnumbered in the state Capitol and have little ability to block Abbott’s agenda.

They used their 10 minutes of airtime after Abbott’s speech to broadcast recorded messages from several Uvalde parents who have been persistent critics of the governor.

Abbott is starting a record-setting third term, in which his popularity in Texas has seldom appeared broader. He called on lawmakers to deliver another $4 billion in border security spending, mandatory 10-year sentences for immigrant trafficking convictions and an end to all pandemic-era restrictions in Texas.

Abbott, 65, has mostly avoided questions about whether he will run for president like his two predecessors in Texas—former governors Rick Perry and George W. Bush—but he hasn’t ruled it out.

Still, the longtime political ally of former President Donald Trump is unlikely to enter a field that already includes Trump and may also pit him against popular Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Trump, in particular, is known as a vicious, scorched-earth campaigner, and Abbott has faced some intra-party criticism for being too accommodating to Democrats when it came to the actual enforcement of border security—as opposed to tough, but ultimately hollow, rhetoric.

Dave Carney, Abbott’s chief political strategist, said the governor will survey the field of Republican presidential contenders once the Texas Legislature adjourns in May. Abbott will then decide if the race would benefit from his experience in Texas, said Carney, who was also a strategist to Perry’s presidential campaign in 2012.

“If he doesn’t think that there’s a need for his running, he won’t,” Carney said of Abbott. “He’s not this blindly ambitious guy who has to run for the very next thing all the time.”

Adapted from reporting by the Associated Press

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