Governor Rick Perry has a tendency to give America the impression that Texas is a rogue state, filled with fundamentalists and anti-tax secessionists. He frequently feeds the stereotype that cowboy hat-wearing businessmen wear six-shooters on the way to work.
Last week, in response to President Obama's new gun proposals, Governor Perry accused the President of using the Newtown massacre "to advance a pre-existing political agenda," adding that it "disgusts" him. He went on to say that the Second Amendment "cannot be nor will it be abridged by the executive power of this or any other president."
Governor Perry wants you to think that this is just how Texas is.
But while Governor Perry's rhetoric is in line with the National Rifle Association, it turns out that he's out of step with the people who administer his four largest cities -- the mayors of Houston, San Antonio, Dallas and Austin. For a state often stereotyped in the media as having a significant number of quasi-state nationalists, it turns out that the population centers of Texas are actually anchored in rational understanding of America's gun problem.
To be clear, the mayors of Texas' four largest cities support President Obama. They support his proposals for gun control, and, specifically, they favor action on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.
Houston Mayor (and gun owner) Annise Parker "favors limiting the sale of assault rifles." She tells the Houston Chronicle: "I believe the federal government ought to consider that, but it's not going to happen down here."
Whereas Mayor Parker may have a negative outlook on the political situation, San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro remains upbeat in his opposition to the Texas governor.
San Antonio, Texas
Sitting as a guest on The Charlie Rose Show, Mayor Castro was frank: "I think renewing the assault weapons ban, closing the gun-show loophole is very reasonable," he said.
Dallas Mayor (and gun owner) Mike Rawlings also registered his discontent with the status quo.
According to the Dallas Morning News, Rawlings expressed his open support for the President's gun control proposal, saying: "The proposals that the president has put on the table are solid, and I support them." He added: "There's no reason for a 30-round magazine."
With the three largest Texas cities firmly behind President Obama, it's no surprise that Austin, long known as a bastion of progressivism in the heart of Texas, would have a mayor capable of offering a forceful defense of President Obama. Mayor Lee Leffingwell did not disappoint.
In a statement, Leffingwell made his position clear on behalf of the state capital: "I applaud President Obama and Vice President Biden for their leadership and courage in addressing gun violence prevention. Folks from Austin and across the country have called for stronger gun regulations, and I am thankful that real reforms will finally be enacted."
If anything, these statements by the mayors of Texas' largest cities should serve to remind Americans that not only are Governor Rick Perry's views out of the mainstream, but, more importantly, that Texas is a dynamic place with many smart folks -- and not necessarily a place for which you will need a passport anytime soon.
Brandon Friedman is a former resident of Dallas, Texas.
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