On today's BradCast: Is it possible? Could gun reform really be coming to the gun-loving, GOP-run, NRA-controlled state of Texas in the wake of a spate of mass shootings in the Lone Star state? Our guest today, an expert in the matter, is surprisingly optimistic. [Audio link to show follows below.]
But, first up, before we get there, some very quick news of the day. In a move that was a surprise, apparently, to even top White House officials, Donald Trump's very hawkish, very rightwing National Security Advisor --- his third --- John Bolton, was tossed out of his job abruptly on Tuesday morning. That's both good and bad news for several reasons, which we discuss, including the late day concerns about the man reportedly being tapped to replace him, who used to serve as a board member at an Islamophobic organization named as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
On Monday night, Trump and Vice President Mike Pence held rallies for the Republican candidate in North Carolina's 9th Congressional District U.S. House Special Election being held today. Though Trump won the district by some 12 points in 2016 and no Democrat has held its U.S. House seat since the 1960s, the GOP appears to be hedging their bets today by describing NC09 as a "swing district". NC election watchers are scoffing at those comments, citing them as coming from Republican officials in preparation for a potential loss by the extremely Trumpy Republican candidate Dan Bishop who is running in the do-over election against Democrat Dan McCready.
The race is being held to fill the nearly year-long vacancy after last November's contest in the district was never certified by the state, thanks to the discovery of an Absentee Ballot Election Fraud scheme engineered by a GOP contractor hired by the Republican Baptist preacher who had been running for the seat last year.
Tuesday's contest is being seen as both a bellwether for 2020 and a referendum on Trump's job performance. We'll have full coverage of reported results on tomorrow's program. But, at Trump's rally for Bishop on Tuesday night in Fayetteville, the President appeared to, once again, lie about the weather, just as he did during Hurricane Dorian. Those lies have now resulted in a crisis at the senior political level of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
Then we're joined by ED SCRUGGS, President of Texas Gun Sense, a nonprofit advocacy group in the Lone Star state fighting for common sense --- and long overdue --- gun safety reforms. In the wake of two recent mass shootings in the state --- one a massacre that killed 22 at an El Paso Walmart last month and the other a rampage just two weeks later that killed 7 and injured more than 20 others in Odessa and Midland --- the previously very pro-gun, very pro-NRA Republican Governor Greg Abbott and his similarly pro-gun, pro-NRA Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, have been claiming that they are now open to reform of some of the state's gun laws in the very pro-gun state of Texas.
Scruggs was one of several reform advocates who met with the Governor following the Walmart shooting last month. He reports today that, in contrast with previous such meeting, both Abbott and Patrick brought "startling" and specific ideas for reforms themselves to the meeting planned for two hours, but which was extended to five. Among the measures discussed were expanded background checks to close the so-called "gun show" loophole (which was exploited by the Midland/Odessa shooter) and the possibility of "red flag" laws.
"Both the Governor and the Lieutenant Governor actually had reforms that they brought to the table that they wanted the folks to consider there. Which was very unusual," Scruggs tells me. "I've never heard them speak that way. Two years ago, it never would have happened. It would have been unthinkable."
At the meeting, which occurred after El Paso but before Midland/Odessa, "Both the Lieutenant Governor and the Governor both said, 'Hey, we have this situation where people can get around the background check system. They can go on a private market and can get around it, and it's very dangerous'. And the Governor said, 'Well, that would be a crazy way to sell a weapon because how would you know that you wouldn't be selling a gun to a terrorist, or to a criminal.' Of course, these are things we've been saying for many years."
After the Midland and Odessa spree, Abbott even indicated he might not be opposed to ideas being discussed by state legislators regarding new restrictions on AR-style assault rifles used in a spate of mass shootings since Abbott has taken office as Governor. But, Scruggs explains, the devil will be in the details as far as what Abbott and Patrick may support --- and what the NRA will even allow them to. For example, he notes that Patrick has suggested ending "stranger-to-stranger" sales, while allowing for the ability to transfer firearms within your family, or to loan a gun to your friend or neighbor.
"Everyone agrees these stranger-to-stranger sales, the private sales that take place at gun shows, the sales over the Internet or out of the back of some guy's trunk in a big box store parking lot, something like that, we all know how dangerous and terrible those are. So, everyone seems to want to close that down. However, the catch is, if your exceptions for family transfer and transfer between friends is too large, you're just going to open up a new loophole again."
Nonetheless, Scruggs suggests that with the body count rapidly mounting in Texas and pressure being felt by Republican politicians facing very real demographic and political changes, even one of the nation's most staunchly pro-gun states may be on the verge of long-overdue reform. And if it can happen in Texas...
"There's a realization that's starting to set in where you have responsible gun owners saying, 'Hey, they've been so extreme now for so long, there's a backlash building, and I'm afraid if we don't do something now we're going to lose it all soon.' Because they know these shootings are going to continue. I think that's something that has really hung over the last few weeks in Texas. We're not done with this. So if you don't act, and there's another one, and then maybe there's another one, how much more difficult is it going to be?"
Finally, we're joined by Desi Doyen for our latest Green News Report, with more on the Trump-invoked NOAA scandal in the wake of Hurricane Dorian; an horrific potential death toll in the storm-ravaged Bahamas; and an investigation into what appears to be a corrupt anti-trust probe by the DoJ of four major automakers who made an agreement with California to lower auto-emissions and raise mileage standards in defiance of the Trump EPA's rollback of cost-saving and life-saving regulations enacted under the Obama Administration...
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