The state of Texas has more registered guns than any other state in the country. Texas is the Holy Grail to gun control advocates—they believe if they can change laws in Texas, they can change the nation’s gun laws.
The problem is that Texas has long been populated by a majority of voters who are staunch supporters of the Second Amendment, making it difficult for gun control activists to make any headway in the state. However, that hasn’t stopped them from trying – and, to some degree, they are succeeding.
Leading up to the midterm elections this past Tuesday, gun control activists took to the streets and town halls in Texas in an attempt to convince voters to put anti-gun politicians into power. Gabby Giffords, the former Arizona congresswoman who was injured in a 2011 mass shooting, was one of these activists trying to turn to the tide in Texas.
“The answer is not more guns, and this is coming from a gun owner,” Gifford’s husband said, who does much of the speaking for his wife due to her injury which impedes her ability to speak clearly. Gifford’s husband later told ABC News, “If the answer was more guns, we would already live in the safest country on the planet, because of the number of firearms that are here and the number of people that already carry them. It does not pass the logic test.”
The part that should be frightening to supporters of the Second Amendment is that their efforts in Texas were almost successful. Beto O’Rourke, a Congressman running for a Senate seat in the state of Texas voiced his support of gun control and supported banning semi-automatic weapons in the state of Texas. These stances earned O’Rourke an F rating from the NRA. Yet in spite of these stances and in spite of the fact that O’Rourke was running in a state with more gun owners than any other state, he still only lost to the incumbent, pro-Second Amendment Ted Cruz by a razor slim margin of 2.6 percentage points.
Granted, it likely wasn’t O’Rourke’s stance on guns that allowed him to challenge Cruz so effectively. If anything, O’Rourke’s views on guns most likely held him back in the highly pro-gun state of Texas. However, that doesn’t change the fact that Texas very nearly decided to send a representative to Washington who favors some very extreme gun control measures.
Gun control advocates realize that if they can win in Texas, they can win anywhere. Gun control is still far from being a popular policy in the state of Texas, but changing demographics in the state have still made it possible for politicians who support gun control to be elected.
Texas isn’t quite at that point yet, as witnessed by the fact that Cruz was able to defeat O’Rourke in spite of his own popularity issues. However, Texas is certainly much closer to being a favorable battleground for gun control activists than it used to be.
Having Texas – which sends two representatives to the Senate, thirty-six representatives to the House, and counts for thirty-six votes in the electoral college – warm up to the idea of gun control would come as a major blow to supporters of the Second Amendment.
Already, gun rights activists must contend with the fact that the first and third largest states by population -New York and California – are states that support gun control more heavily than any other states in the country. Texas has long served as an important counterbalance against these states when it comes to the issue of gun control. Now, though, voters in Texas may not be as reliable in their support for gun rights and pro-gun politicians as they once were.
The good news is that gun rights remained enshrined in the Constitution and protected by the courts no matter who the states decide to elect. The bad news is that this certainly hasn’t stopped places such as California, New York, and Chicago from adopting very restrictive gun control measures. If the day comes where gun rights activists are no longer able to rely on the state of Texas as a major voice for gun rights in Washington, the consequences might be dire.