Texas Republican Rep. Jared Patterson came under fire on Twitter Sunday evening for using the reports of a shooting in Austin to promote legislation that would allow Texans to carry guns without a license.
Earlier that day, three people had been shot and killed at an apartment complex in northern Austin by former sheriff’s deputy Stephen Broderick, who resigned in June after being charged with sexual assault of a child. This is the fourth mass shooting in Texas this month.
In his response to the news, Patterson took the opportunity to promote House Bill 1927 that would allow handguns to be carried without a permit. Patterson then went on to express his sympathy for the victims of the gun-related homicide.
“Evil exists in this world. HB 1927 gives law-abiding citizens the ability to fight back, to protect themselves and their families w/out being restricted by the government,” Patterson tweeted. “God bless and comfort those killed and affected by the shooting in Austin today. It’s time for us to fight back.”
The intense public backlash from the public comes amid the surge in heated debate on the issue of gun control. Despite intense criticism, HB 1927 was approved by the state House Thursday in a 84-56 party-line vote and now heads to the state Senate. If passed, it would make Texas the largest state in the nation to allow no-permit handgun carry. GOP Rep. Matt Schaffer, the bill’s lead sponsor, called it “constitutional carry” legislation and argued that many people don’t have the time and money to get a permit.
The bill now goes to the Senate, where its prospects are uncertain. Although earlier this month Gov. Greg Abbott endorsed a bill that would transform Texas into what’s been referred to as a “Second Amendment Sanctuary State,” he has remained silent on the “constitutional carry” bill.