Could proposed legislation by Lt. Governor Patrick and recent legislation giving people increased access to guns be a setup for a mass incarceration push in Texas?
African Americans in Texas should be very cautious, concerned, and cognizant about what is happening in plain sight regarding the carefree attitude that many of our top elected officials in the Lone Star State have about giving people unfettered access to guns, guns, and more guns.
It is a disturbing trend, especially after hearing Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick make a campaign promise that should truly concern every person of color, namely African Americans.
As part of his reelection bid last year, Patrick released an eye-opening campaign ad, where he boldly proclaimed in that campaign ad that one of his top priorities to address violent crime would be to advocate for the following, according to his words:
“Texans are fed up with violent crime and skyrocketing murder rates. To stop it, I will pass legislation next session to add a 10-year mandatory jail sentence to anyone convicted of using a gun while committing a crime.”
As we have often heard, the “devil is in the details,” but there lies the problem. Patrick never gave any specific details, but the few words he did say should be closely and carefully dissected.
If we look at the last part of what Patrick said in this part of the campaign, he literally said that this 2023 Legislative Session, he will pass legislation “to add a 10-year mandatory jail sentence to anyone convicted of using a gun while committing a crime.”
Did you hear that? Anyone convicted of using a gun while committing a crime!
There is where everyone’s antennas should be raised to the roof.
What kind of crime? Any crime? What about crimes that are not violent in nature, but a gun just happened to be in someone’s possession?
Think about the seriousness of this, everyone!!!
I mean, Texas did just pass one of the most controversial pieces of legislation in the history of the state this past legislative session.
Back in September 2021, the Forward Times published an article entitled “Permitless Carry” is Here and EVERY Texan Should Be Concerned and prior to that, another article entitled A ‘Setup’ Waiting to Happen in June 2021, which talked about HB 1927—a bill that was signed into law by Texas Governor Greg Abbott, and now literally allows any Texas resident age 21 and over to openly carry a handgun in public without any permit, license, or training.
Back in December 2015, the Forward Times also published an article entitled Open Carry… Is That Law Really For “Us”?, which served as a heads up for African Americans to pay attention to another new law that allows any individual who held a Texas Concealed Handgun License to openly carry their handgun without any consequence.
The ‘permitless carry’ bill that went into effect in 2021, practically rendered the “open-carry” legislation useless, because now Texans don’t even need a Texas Concealed Handgun License to openly carry their handgun.
The primary concern about any of these pieces of legislation that have since gone into effect, was whether African Americans would receive the same level of respect and consideration when it comes to the application of these laws in comparison to white people.
So, let’s get this straight. Encourage everyone to have guns without a license or obligatory training, but advocate for legislation that places a mandatory minimum sentence of any timeframe on someone who is committing any crime, regardless of what it is?
Make it make sense. Or maybe it does.
Mass incarceration has been a major issue in this country for decades, and has decimated Black families and devastated Black communities in the process.
No other country incarcerates more people than the U.S., and although African Americans make up only 13 percent of the entire U.S. population, 38 percent of the people who are incarcerated in American jails and prisons are Black. This has led to major issues in the Black community, such as challenges with recidivism, mental illness, health disparities, economic challenges, unemployment, homelessness, housing disparity, and much more.
While crime has been on the rise across the country, even here in Texas, there must be a distinction made between what crimes should warrant the level of punishment that the lieutenant governor is proposing.
Something must be done to address violent crimes such as emphasizing robberies, road rage incidents, family violence incidents, and other situations involving guns, while also implementing some enhanced sentencing for those who use assault weapons during the commission of a crime, in order to deter this increased level of violent crimes across the country.
But it needs to be clearly delineated so that it does not become something that would make things more difficult for African Americans, while refueling the problematic mass incarceration epidemic that has plagued the Black community for decades.
We challenge everyone to really pay attention to the details of any potential future legislation, that would seek to impose a mandatory minimum sentence on anyone, without having clear specificity and the absence of loopholes that could jumpstart the mass incarceration movement in the Black community without our knowledge and foresight.
The Forward Times will continue to monitor this situation and keep our readers abreast of the latest happenings in Austin during this legislative session.