Yesterday, Lone Star College in north Houston, Texas, was the site of the 49th school shooting since the 1999 Columbine massacre. Fortunately, there were no fatalities and the suspects are in custody.
Predictably, King and President of Texas Governor Rick Perry is once again using a disturbing event to further his political agenda. He and his per-isite cronies are using the Lone Star College incident as an excuse for jumping at the opportunity to get more guns onto college campuses. KTRK’s Ted Oberg’s conversation with Texas State Representative Tim Poe:
OBERG: Governor Perry said this afternoon his thoughts and prayers are with all the victims, but that anyone licensed and who has training on how to carry a weapon should be able to carry that weapon anywhere within the state and [that he would] indeed review the bill that’s been filed quickly. …. We talked to Ted Poe from the north Houston area, who said students today were defenseless on that campus.
POE: It brings to focus the fact that many schools and universities and students have — are defenseless at the schools and places of higher education and this seems to show that. (ThinkProgress)
But didn’t Texas Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst say that just having a gun is worthless for protection? Of course, President of Texas Rick Perry thinks that he can do whatever he wants with Texas.
Five days before the Lone Star College shooting, the Texas legislature introduced NRA backed bill SB 182 (the Campus Personal Protection Act). The bill is supported by 14 Texas State Senators and if passed will require all colleges and technical schools to allow licensed gun owners to carry their guns on campus. Other versions of this bill were introduced in 2003 and 2011 and failed to pass. I will wager that this time, SB 182 will pass.
Ted Oberg reported on January 16, 2013, that any plan that Perry has “doesn’t involve limiting guns at all.” (ABC 13 KTRK)
“Is the root cause because there are weapons in the United States? No, there have been weapons in the United States forever. But I would suggest that we need to be looking at this whole mental health issue instead of using the death of these young people to further a political cause,” Gov. Perry told KTRK (ABC 13 KTRK)
The problem with that, of course, is that Perry and his per-isites actively do everything they can to keep poor people and disadvantaged populations in Texas from receiving any sort of state or federal funded healthcare. I sit on the board of a community health services organization, and I can tell you that mental health funding in Texas is nearly non-existent. Ted Oberg also knows this:
“If Perry’s attention is focused on expanding mental health care in Texas — it’s not easy to find; he offered no new proposal — funding for Texas mental health services was slashed two years ago and cut again in the budget plan released on Monday.” (ABC 13 KTRK)
Dr. Steven Schnee with the Mental Health & Mental Retardation Authority of Harris County [Houston area], said:
“It’s tragic what we’re doing to people. Through the lack of resources, we end up criminalizing people with mental illness.” He added “I am absolutely convinced that we could have a huge impact on the population that ends up in the jail.” (ABC 13 KTRK)
There are 8,000 inmates in the Harris County jail and 25 percent of them are on psychiatric medications. Once their condition improves, they’re released. “They’re left where they were in the beginning,” said Dr. Michael Seale, Harris County SO Medical Director. “Not taking medication, not able to get to appointments.”
The jail reports that it costs 10 times as much to treat psychiatric patients in jail as it would via community health organizations and clinics. Obamacare Medicaid expansion would alleviate this issue, but of course Perry and the per-isites are blocking the expansion. It doesn’t make any sense financially, but when did Rick Perry’s personal political agenda ever make sense?
Last week, Perry said:
“Let us all return to our places of worship and pray for help. Above all, let us pray for our children.” (RawStory)
As a Christian, I agree. Let’s just pray about this, Governor. If that was your answer for gun violence when we were talking about GUN CONTROL, it should be your answer when talking about keeping Texas college students and staff safe. And why carry a gun when you go jogging? You can just pray those coyotes away, can’t you? As a matter of fact, we can just do away with the Texas State Troopers, the Texas Rangers, and all of the county and city police forces. We don’t need them if we truly believe that prayer will solve what you called “evil prowling around in the world.” (RawStory)
The thing is, to the paranoid right, this business of all college students being armed looks good in print. But look at the reality. I have a 17 year old. The thought of sending my absent-minded teenager to college next year with a handgun is unthinkable to me. Even MORE unthinkable is the fact that if Perry has his way, anyone she encounters in a Texas university, staff AND students, might be packing a handgun. Imagine the possibilities in this scenario. Wrap your mind around this. Terrifying.
I left a message with Governor Perry’s press office regarding the conflicting views that he seems to hold regarding gun control. I’ll update this article if and when I hear back from them. To let this disgraceful and embarrassing Texan know what you think, please give him a call:
Information and Referral and Opinion Hotline [for Austin, Texas and out-of-state callers] : (512) 463-1782
Office of the Governor Main Switchboard [office hours are 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. CST] : (512) 463-2000
Press Office: (512) 463-1826
I am an unapologetic member of the Christian Left, and have spent a lot of time working with “the least of these” and disadvantaged and oppressed populations. I’m passionate about their struggles. To stay on top of topics I discuss, subscribe to my public updates on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, or connect with me via LinkedIn. I also have a grossly neglected blog. Find me somewhere and let’s discuss stuff.