Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick Willing to Close Background Check Loophole for Gun Purchases

Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick Willing to Close Background Check Loophole for Gun Purchases

This might not survivie a phone call from Wayne LaPierre, but it might be encouraging for gun control advocates nonetheless.

Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick told The Dallas Morning News in a Friday interview that he supports his state closing the private-sale background check loophole. And he is willing to defy the National Rifle Association to get it done.

Patrick took this position in the wake of the mass shootings in El Paso and Odessa that killed 29 people. The Odessa shooter, who killed seven and injured 22 before being shot by police, had failed a federal background check when he tried to buy a gun from a store. He then acquired the semi-automatic rifle he used in his spree from a private seller, a transaction that does not require a background check.

The move was a bit of a surprise from Patrick, a staunch conservative and NRA supporter. In the past, Patrick has dismissed efforts at gun control while calling guns “part of who we are as a nation.” He has opposed red flag laws, which some advocates have suggested might ahve also caught the Odessa shooter. After a massacre at Santa Fe High School in Texas in 2018, he blamed mass shootings on video games, abortion, the removal of religion from public schools and broken families. Everything, in short, but the widespread availability of guns.

The NRA, which in the past has given Patrick a rating of 100% for his support of gun rights, immediately slammed Patrick’s statements, saying in a statement:

Criminalizing private firearm transfers would require a massive, governmental gun registration scheme. Instead of trampling the freedom of law-abiding Americans, the government should focus upon actual solutions: fixing our broken mental health system, prosecuting known criminals and enforcing the existing gun laws that require follow-up whenever a prohibited person tries to buy a firearm.

Patrick did caution in Friday’s interview that he does not see closing the background check loophole as a panacea that will stop all mass shootings. But he also warned Republicans that the party’s political survival in Congress and some state legislatures, including Texas, could hinge on their willingness to enact even mild gun control measures in the face of a Democratic party energized by the issue.

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Gary Legum

Gary Legum has written about politics and culture for Independent Journal Review, Salon, The Daily Beast, Wonkette, AlterNet and McSweeney's, among others. He currently lives in his native state of Virginia.