Texas Governor Who Recently Blamed Gun Violence on Godlessness Now Says He’ll Do Something

“The problem is not guns. The problem is hearts without God.”

Stuart Villanueva/The Galveston County Daily News/AP

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.

At a press briefing Friday afternoon, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who has traditionally been a staunch gun rights supporter, called the Santa Fe High School shooting the “worst disaster ever to strike this community” and said, this time, thoughts and prayers weren’t enough.

“We need to do more than just pray for the victims and their families,” Abbott said. “It’s time, in Texas, that we take action to step up and make sure this tragedy is never repeated ever again in the history of the state of Texas.”

Friday’s mass shooting was the eighth to take place in Texas since 1984.

Beginning next week, Abbott said he will begin “roundtable discussions” with lawmakers and citizens—those who own guns and those who do not—to draft gun legislation that could include background checks, strategies “to keep guns out of the hands of those that pose an immediate danger to others,” school security guards, and mental health programs. “The answers will come by us working together,” he said.

This is the closest Abbott has come to taking any step in the direction of gun control after a mass shooting, but whether real action will be taken is yet to be seen—Texas has some of the nation’s most relaxed gun laws, many of which were signed into law by Abbott himself, like Texas’ campus carry and open carry laws. And just earlier this month, Abbot made a much different statement: that the problem is not guns, but an absence of faith in God.

At the annual NRA conference in Dallas, Texas, Abbott addressed a crowd of NRA members: “The answer to gun violence isn’t to take guns out of the hands of people like Stephen Willeford or the people of Sutherland Springs,” referring to the man with an AR-15-style assault rifle who intervened in a shooting at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, in November. “The answer is to strengthen Second Amendment rights for law-abiding citizens in the United States of America…The problem is not guns. The problem is hearts without God.”

Abbott also attributed gun violence to “homes without discipline” and “communities without values.”

And after the Sutherland Springs shooting that killed more than two dozen parishioners last year, Abbott did rely on thoughts and prayers, releasing the following statement:

“While the details of this horrific act are still under investigation, Cecilia and I want to send our sincerest thoughts and prayers to all those who have been affected by this evil act. I want to thank law enforcement for their response and ask that all Texans pray for the Sutherland Springs community during this time of mourning and loss.”

Here’s the footage from Friday:


Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend