Complicit

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On Saturday, a gunman killed seven people and injured more than 20 during a rampage between the Texas cities of Midland and Odessa. Among the victims was a 17-month-old baby, whose injuries "include shrapnel in her chest, a hole through her bottom lip and tongue and damage to her front teeth." 

It was the second gun massacre in Texas during the month of August. On August 3, a shooter killed 22 people and injured dozens more at a Walmart in El Paso. 

How is the state responding to this epidemic of gun violence? On Sunday, the day after the last shooting, eight separate laws loosening gun regulations went into effect. The new laws are designed to make guns even more pervasive in Texas. 

Texas Governor Greg Abbott (R), who signed the bills passed by the Texas legislature, previously joked on Twitter that he was "embarrassed" Texans aren't buying more guns.

At the 2018 NRA convention, Abbott declared that the solution to gun violence was more guns. "The answer to gun violence is not to take guns away, the answer is to strengthen the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens. The problem is not guns, it’s hearts without God,” Abbott said

After the El Paso shooting, some members of the legislature called for a special session to address gun violence. Abbott ignored them.

An analysis of Texas campaign finance records by Popular Information reveals that Abbott and his Republican allies in the Texas legislature are financially supported by some of the nation's largest corporations. Many of these corporations have publicly distanced themselves from the gun industry or present themselves as champions of efforts to reduce gun violence. 

Texas' new gun laws

The new laws in Texas are a wish list for the NRA and the gun industry, allowing Texans to carry guns anywhere and everywhere. Among the new laws that went into effect on September 1:

Senate Bill 535, which allows people to carry firearms in churches, synagogues, and other houses of worship.

House Bill 2363, which loosens restrictions on the storage of firearms by foster parents, allowing them to store guns and ammunition in a single location. 

House Bill 1177, which allows people to carry a handgun without a license during a state of disaster.

House Bill 121, which allows people to carry handguns into an establishment that bans firearms as long as they leave if asked.

House Bill 302, which prohibits landlords from banning tenants and their guests from carrying firearms in lease agreements.

House Bill 1143, which allows people to store guns in cars in school parking lots.

House Bill 1387, which allows more armed marshalls in Texas schools.

Even before these changes, Texas already had some of the weakest gun laws in the country. The Republican-controlled Texas legislature, meanwhile, rejected legislation "to ban bump stocks, pass red flag laws or close the so-called gun show loophole." 

These corporations are financing the politicians who are weakening Texas gun laws 

Popular Information reviewed the corporate contributors to the politicians and political committees most responsible for weakening gun laws in Texas. The analysis covered donations from 2015, when Abbott became Governor, to the present. It encompasses contributions to Abbott, the leadership of the Texas legislature, the sponsors of the recent legislation weakening Texas gun laws, and political committees that supported these politicians.

AT&T donated at least $718,566 to the politicians most responsible for weakening gun laws in Texas

AT&T touts itself publicly as dedicated to combating gun violence. AT&T says that it is supporting its employees who "refuse to give up on neighborhoods with too much gun violence." In May 2019, the company released a video highlighting the toll of gun violence on communities. The video features Latoya, a young woman fighting gun violence in Chicago:

It seems like every second a life is lost to a gun, including my mother's first-born son. Violence has seemed to become the norm, even on campus or my college dorm. No matter where you are or what you do, it seems like gunshots are always around too. 

The company also donated at least $720,000 to the politicians most responsible for weakening gun laws in Texas. AT&T's contributions since 2015 include:

$200,000 to Texas Governor Greg Abbott (R).

$75,022 to Texas House Speaker Speaker Dennis Bonnen (R).

$150,000 to Texas Lieutenant Governor and Senate President Dan Patrick (R).

$45,000 to the Associated Republicans of Texas, a PAC dedicated to maintaining Republican-control of the Texas legislature.

$175,000 to the Texas Republican Party.

$30,000 to State Senator Bryan Hughes (R), who sponsored legislation allowing Texans to store guns in cars in school parking lots, and legislation prohibiting landlords from banning firearms as part of a lease agreement. 

$10,000 to State Senator Brandon Creighton (R), who sponsored legislation allowing Texans to carry a handgun without a license after a disaster, and legislation protecting Texans who carry a gun into an establishment that bans firearms.

$7,500 to State Senator Brian Birdwell (R) and $3,500 to State Representative Cody Harris, who sponsored legislation easing restrictions on gun storage by foster parents, allowing them to store guns and ammunition in the same location. 

$7,544 to State Representative Dan Flynn (R) and $15,000 to State Senator Donna Campbell (R), who sponsored legislation allowing Texans to carry guns in churches, synagogues, and other houses of worship. 

Walmart donated at least $104,000 to the politicians most responsible for weakening gun laws in Texas

After the shooting at its El Paso store, Walmart said it "will work to understand the many important issues that arise… in the broader national discussion around gun violence." 

The company, which is one of the largest retailers of guns in the U.S., has attempted to position itself as moderate and responsible. In 2018, it raised the age to purchase a gun at its stores to 21 and stopped selling military-style rifles in 2015. 

Meanwhile, Walmart donated at least $104,000 to the politicians most responsible for weakening gun laws in Texas. Walmart's contributions since 2015 include:

$35,000 to Texas Governor Greg Abbott (R).

$6,000 to Texas House Speaker Speaker Dennis Bonnen (R).

$47,000 to Texas Lieutenant Governor and Senate President Dan Patrick (R).

$1,500 to State Senator Bryan Hughes (R).

$3,000 to State Senator Brandon Creighton (R).

$6,500 to State Senator Brian Birdwell (R).

$2,000 to State Representative Dan Flynn (R). 

$3,000 to State Senator Donna Campbell (R). 

CVS donated $54,000 to the politicians most responsible for weakening gun laws in Texas

In a 2018 posting on its corporate website, CVS said that healthcare companies should view "gun violence as a public health issue" and take "the same sort of approach that is typically used with other chronic health care conditions." Companies like CVS, the post said, "have the opportunity to play a role in addressing this problem."

CVS donated $54,000 to the politicians most responsible for weakening gun laws in Texas. CVS's contributions since 2015 include:

$21,000 to Texas Governor Greg Abbott (R).

$6,000 to Texas House Speaker Speaker Dennis Bonnen (R).

$20,000 to Texas Lieutenant Governor and Senate President Dan Patrick (R).

$1,000 to State Senator Bryan Hughes (R).

$5,000 to State Senator Brandon Creighton (R).

$1,000 to State Representative Dan Flynn (R). 

Bank of America donated at least $25,000 to the politicians most responsible for weakening gun laws in Texas

In April 2018, Bank of America announced it would stop lending money "to manufacturers of 'military-style firearms' that are sold for civilian use." 

“We want to contribute in any way we can to reduce these mass shootings. I mean that’s such a tragedy in the United States, so that’s number one,” Bank of America executive Anne Finucane told Bloomberg. 

After announcing the decision, Bank of America donated $10,000 to Abbott in October 2018. Overall, Bank of America has donated $25,000 to Abbott since 2015. 

Citigroup donated at least $25,503 to the politicians most responsible for weakening gun laws in Texas

In a corporate statement last year, Citigroup said that "[f]or too many years, in too many places, our country has seen acts of gun violence that have resulted in heartbreaking losses." The company was waiting "for our grief to turn into action and see our nation adopt common-sense measures that would help prevent firearms from getting into the wrong hands," but that action "has sadly never come."

Therefore, the company said, it "must do our part." It announced that it would not do business with retailers that sell guns to people who do not pass background checks, people who are under 21, or that sell bump stocks or high capacity magazines. 

Citigroup donated at least $25,503 to the politicians most responsible for weakening gun laws in Texas. Citigroup's contributions since 2015 include:

$15,503 to Texas Governor Greg Abbott (R).

$5,000 to Texas Lieutenant Governor and Senate President Dan Patrick (R).

$2,000 to State Senator Bryan Hughes (R).

$3,000 to State Senator Donna Campbell (R). 


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