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Odessa Shooting Highlights McConnell’s Inaction On Gun Control

Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky speaking at the 2014 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland.
Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky speaking at the 2014 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland. (Photo: Gage Skidmore)

“I’m thinking tonight of those who lost their lives in Odessa and Midland and the loved ones they left behind.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is facing intense criticism for stalling gun control legislation in the wake of yet another mass shooting on Saturday, most bluntly expressed by the hashtag #MassacreMitch trending on Twitter over the weekend.

After Texas state troopers moved to pull over a car on Interstate 20 for failing to signal a turn, the driver, a 36 year old man, pointed an assault rifle at the police and began firing. The shooter proceeded to hijack a postal truck and spray bullets at passing vehicles, killing 7 and wounding 22, before being slain by police in a shoot out near an Odessa movie theatre.

“I’m thinking tonight of those who lost their lives in Odessa and Midland and the loved ones they left behind,” tweeted Rep. Katie Porter on Sunday. “It’s abundantly clear that we must take action to curb gun violence in this country. @senatemajldr allowing votes on HR8 and HR1112 would be a good start.”

H.R.8, also known as the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019, would close loopholes on online or gun show purchases of firearms that allow gun buyers to evade background checks. H.R.1112 would similarly close loopholes for gun purchase background checks.

Despite the bills’ bipartisan support, McConnell has refused to allow their vote in the senate. A Quinnipiac University poll released late last week showed that 93 percent of Americans support universal background checks.

The majority leader, who wants to be called the “Grim Reaper” for his commitment to kill progressive legislation, is a top recipient of donations from the National Rifle Association (NRA).

As CNBC reported last month, “The National Rifle Association spent $1.6 million during the first half of the year lobbying members of the House and Senate against laws that would enact stricter background checks for people looking to buy guns, according to disclosure reports.”

While McConnell has a consistent  history of blocking gun legislation after tragic mass shootings like Sandy Hook, internal scandals at the NRA and a strengthening gun control movement , as well as heightened public scrutiny after the recent El Paso and Dayton shootings, could finally lead to change.

Texas Loosens Gun Restrictions

While gun control advocates pleaded for federal action after the Odessa shooting, new state laws that ease restrictions on gun owners in Texas went into effect only hours after the massacre. The El Paso shooting, which killed 22, took place less than a month ago, and four out of ten of the most deadly shootings in modern U.S. history have taken place in Texas.

“Taken together, these new laws allow licensed gun owners to store firearms in a locked car in a school parking lot and ban private apartment buildings from prohibiting gun owners from storing their weapons in their rental units,” wrote Vox’s Anya van Wagtendonk. “They also make it easier for people to bring guns into houses of worship, and allow some foster homes to store guns.”

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Peter Castagno

Peter Castagno is a freelance writer with a Master’s degree in International Conflict Resolution. He has traveled throughout the Middle East and Latin America to gain firsthand insight in some of the world’s most troubled areas, and he plans on publishing his first book in 2019.

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