No Wendy Davis, You're Not One Of The Reasons Why Gun Control Hasn't Moved Forward

Matt Vespa
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Posted: Dec 10, 2015 4:00 PM
No Wendy Davis, You're Not One Of The Reasons Why Gun Control Hasn't Moved Forward

Oh, dear lord, she’s back. Wendy Davis has a confession to make: supporting open carry rights in Texas during her disastrous gubernatorial run last year haunted her. Granted, while a law-abiding Texan could open carry his or her long gun, carrying handguns had been illegal since the Civil War. In June of 2015, Gov. Greg Abbott reversed that law.

She says that she’s part of the reason why progress on so-called sensible gun control hasn’t been made, which is absurd. The reason gun control legislation remains stuck in the mud is because the public simply doesn’t agree. Fifty-seven percent believe that guns prevent crime; they’re right. Moreover, Republicans control Congress, 66 of the 99 state legislatures (the most ever), two-thirds of the governorships, and have the most legislative seats at the state level since 1920. So, given this political landscape, gun control isn’t happening anytime soon–and Davis barely getting 40 percent of the vote is probably the least of the movement’s worries.

In 2014, during my Texas gubernatorial campaign, I succumbed to the idea that making guns an issue in the race was not politically wise in a conservative state. I take full responsibility for this decision, and I’ve lived with the consequences of having made it ever since.

In one sense, it was a successful strategy: It kept the open carry question off the table and out of the volley of issues that were batted back and forth between me and my opponent during the remainder of the race. Given how heated the topic had become with the pro-gun rights folks, I was glad I avoided lighting that match. But in another sense, it was terrible.

Justifiably, some of my largest donors were angry about my position. And I will never forget the tear-filled eyes of a member of “Moms Demand Action” as she expressed her disappointment in me. Worse, I had to live with my own conscience.

In the end, there is no question in my mind that my decision to support open carry actually cost me votes that I otherwise would have had. As it should have. And I doubt that it gained me a single one.

But that’s not the point.

Indeed–because Davis was never going to win. And she decided to run because the prospect of her winning re-election to her state senate seat was tenuous at best. Moreover, we all know that one of the Castro brothers is probably going to run for governor of Texas someday, a primary between Davis and one of them would also have ended in slaughter. Also, Davis’ loss has set back Democratic plans of turning Texas into a competitive state. Lastly, her open carry support cost her votes? That’s a statement that most losing candidates say when they lose by razor thin margins; Davis lost by 20 points. Oh, and I’m sure that you being a candidate who initially prevented a late-term abortion bill really caught on in deep red Texas.

Davis leaves readers with this:

When the Manchin-Toomey bill failed in April 2013, only four Republican senators voted in favor of it—including Sen. Pat Toomey, the bill’s co-sponsor. Only a handful of Democrats voted against it, and all of them were from predominantly red states. I could imagine all of the phone calls and advice they got from their own strategy teams. Maybe, like me, they feared that voting in favor of the bill would suck all of the oxygen out of the room.

I’m not sure what they were thinking then, but I wonder if they’re feeling guilty about it now, too. Unlike me, though, the ones who are still in office have a chance to reverse course. They still have a pulpit from which to speak. I can only hope that whatever guilt they might feel about that prior vote won’t wait to catch up to them until they’re out of office and out of politics, removed from the opportunity to do something about it—like it did for me.

The problem is that none of Obama’s gun control proposals would stop mass shootings. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) even admitted that Manchin-Toomey wouldn’t have prevented the Newtown shooting, which was the impetus for the recent round of gun control nonsense from the left.

Also, what was the point of this confession?