Letters to the Editor
April 19, 2023

To the Editor:

If you want to know why, increasingly, Republicans in power are dismissive of the law and endorse unrestricted gun use, observe the case of TX Governor Greg Abbott.

On July 25, 2020, Daniel Perry, 30-year-old off-duty Army sergeant and Uber driver in Austin, honked as he drove his car into a Black Lives Matter protest against the George Floyd murder. When 28-year-old Air Force veteran, Garrett Foster, legally open-carrying an AK-47 rifle, approached to ask him to slow down, Perry shot Foster multiple times with his .357 Magnum. Perry had earlier tweeted that he “might have to kill a few people on my way to work.”
Eyewitnesses testified that Foster had neither been aggressive nor aimed his rifle at Perry, and Perry later admitted that “I didn’t want to give him the chance to aim at me.” Following a two-week trial and 17-day deliberation, the jury rejected Perry’s “stand your ground” defense and found him guilty of Foster’s murder.

Immediately thereafter, before sentencing, and at the urging of conservative politicians and commentators including Tucker Carlson, Abbott directed the TX Board of Pardons to supplant the verdict and recommend a pardon. He said, "I look forward to approving the Board’s pardon recommendation as soon as it hits my desk." There is no assertion that Abbott reviewed a single minute of testimony or piece of evidence.

Why are so many Republicans defending these deranged and violent events? Stand your ground laws compounded with legal open carry generate the distinct possibility of even more disorder and violence. A very unsettling pattern is emerging.
Abbott and others are now at the “ignore the courts,” and legislate for use of civilian military weapons, stage. Anger and resentment, particularly among MAGA, is moving towards chaos. When it gets bad enough, a future autocratic government will be “forced” to intervene to stop the carnage and forcibly restore order as they define “order.” The people will have been shown as untrustworthy to govern themselves.

Until then, they will try to convince voters to elect legislators who promise to keep them “safe” and endorse their singular righteousness in whatever beliefs they choose. Voters who won’t understand that knee-jerk distrust of the “other,” belligerence and hostility over differences, and the permission to violently enforce personal biases, is disastrous to our representative democracy and makes our country a mark for despots.

Why do you think Trump, Carlson, DeSantis and others so admire authoritarians and dictators?

Kelly Scoles,
Fillmore, Ca.