Granderson: With each horrific shooting, Texas' governor looks more inept
Greg Abbott of Texas continues to make a strong case for being the nation’s most inept governor. The latest mass shootings in his state mark a shameful low point.
It’s not just that he’s a gun owner and a Republican, because let’s face it, elected officials from both parties cash gun-lobby checks. It’s his very public mishandling of the gun-violence epidemic that sets him apart.
Abbott is the governor who posted an infamous tweet Oct. 28, 2015, celebrating guns, and he has kept it online as it gets more and more cringe-worthy. It was still up Sunday morning, the day after a gunman opened fire at an outlet mall outside Dallas. At least eight dead. At least seven others wounded. And yet there is Abbott on the record:
I'm EMBARRASSED: Texas #2 in nation for new gun purchases, behind CALIFORNIA. Let's pick up the pace Texans. @NRA https://t.co/Ry2GInbS1g
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) October 28, 2015
Texas had 18 mass shootings the year he tweeted that, according to the Gun Violence Archive. As a country, we lost 468 people to 372 mass shootings in 2015, including one the day that Abbott posted that tweet. Mass shootings occurred most days: 220 to be exact. The other 145 days we cleaned up the blood, had our thoughts, said our prayers and waited for the next one.
Abbott’s clumsy response to the school shooting in Uvalde last May was not a fluke. He didn’t meaningfully respond at all. He didn’t even postpone a fundraising event the evening of the shooting. This is who this man is.
Last month, after a family was gunned down, Abbott callously dehumanized the victims by calling them illegal immigrants. This was not a misstep on his part. This is who this man is.
His latest attempt to change the subject is especially rich.
“One thing that we can observe very easily is that there has been a dramatic increase in the amount of anger and violence that's taking place in America,” Abbott said on “Fox News Sunday.” “And what Texas is doing, in a big-time way, we're working to address that anger and violence by going to its root cause, which is addressing the mental health crisis behind it.”
In 2022, Texas was ranked last in the country in overall access to mental health care, according to data analyzed by Mental Health America. A shameful statistic, but not surprising considering that Abbott has cut $211 million from the department in charge of his state’s mental health programs.
In 2015, Abbott’s first year as governor, he recognized Mental Health Awareness Month in part by saying: “Ensuring timely access to effective treatment is beneficial not only for individual well-being, but also for our society as a whole, resulting in countless cost savings in the healthcare, criminal justice, housing and family services fields.”
Indeed. Abbott identified the problem aptly, but then he made it worse.
To review: The governor who identified the importance of his state’s mental health services later took $211 million from them. The governor who gutted mental health care now says it is the key to preventing mass shootings.
The governor who used his office to make it as easy as possible to get guns has also expressed concern about the Mexican cartel presence along the border. As if his policies didn’t play a role in arming them.
The governor who crowed about gun proliferation in 2015 — and tagged the NRA as if seeking approval — had the nerve to say recently “what we've seen across the United States over the past year or two." As if anything about these mass shootings is a new phenomenon.
So don’t get your hopes up when he says some of the right things about mental health care. Abbott has shown us who he is, and he won’t be part of the solution.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.