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On Gun Safety, Gov. Greg Abbott Says ‘The Status Quo Is Unacceptable’

Miguel Gutierrez Jr. /KUT News

From Texas Standard.

Bump stocks are back in the news now that President Donald Trump has made a move to ban them. These devices, which basically turn a semiautomatic gun into an automatic gun, were not used in the latest mass shooting at a Florida high school, but were used in the deadly Las Vegas concert shooting in October.

There were calls to ban them back then – and orders for them surged. That’s when we learned many of these devices are actually manufactured in tiny Moran, Texas, about 45 miles east of Abilene, at a place called Slide Fire Solutions.

Orders appear to be surging again. Earlier this week the Guardian reported Slide Fire offered a Presidents’ Day sale advertising 10 percent off using the coupon code MAGA, an abbreviation of Trump’s oft-used “Make America Great Again” slogan. That was before Trump’s proposed ban. Now, at last check the website for Slide Fire is down. A message posted on their Facebook page last night said, “Our website is experiencing very high traffic at this time which is causing problems with website stability.”

Some call a possible bump stock ban a step in the right direction, but others say it’s making the device a scapegoat. It’s not the only move this week to tighten the rules around guns. Trump is now expressing some support for a bill co-sponsored by Texas Senator John Cornyn. It would increase government accountability for firearm background checks.

John Moritz covers Texas government and politics for the USA Today Network. He says Gov. Greg Abbott announced on Tuesday that he supports closing loopholes for background checks

“Asked about specific legislation that he would back or specific new measures that he would back, [Abbott] was less forthright,” Moritz says. “But he did mention that he and the other governors will be at the National Governors Association meeting in Washington, DC, where he expects to bring the issue up with the president and with congressional leaders.”

Moritz says that doesn’t mean legislation is within sight now.

“In the aftermath of one of these events, there’s lots of concern, lots of calls for action, lots of soul-searching,” he says. “But when we get down to the political realities, the interest groups on either side tend to polarize the decision-makers and, if history is a guide, we’ll hear a lot of things but we may not see a lot of things.”

The Texas State Rifle Association has already endorsed Abbott for reelection, Moritz says. And the governor has an A+ rating with the NRA.

“In his first two years as governor, he signed the open carry legislation. He signed another bill that would basically allow the carrying of handguns on certain parts of college campuses,” Moritz says. “He will tell anybody who’s willing to listen to him that he’s a staunch defender of the Second Amendment.”

Abbott didn’t say whether he’d back Cornyn’s bill, but he did say that he would support efforts to address mental health and background checks.

Written by Jen Rice.

Rhonda joined KUT in late 2013 as producer for the station's new daily news program, Texas Standard. Rhonda will forever be known as the answer to the trivia question, “Who was the first full-time hire for The Texas Standard?” She’s an Iowa native who got her start in public radio at WFSU in Tallahassee, while getting her Master's Degree in Library Science at Florida State University. Prior to joining KUT and The Texas Standard, Rhonda was a producer for Wisconsin Public Radio.
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