Pritzker, Lightfoot, other local Democrats rip Texas governor for injecting Chicago into school shooting debate

“I hate to say this, there are more people that are shot every weekend in Chicago than there are in schools in Texas,” Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said. Gov. J.B. Pritzker tweeted, “Shame on you.” Ald. Gilbert Villegas (36th) tweeted that the Republican governor was an “@sshole” and should” keep our city’s name out of your mouth.”

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Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, left, on Wednesday; Gov. J.B. Pritzker, right, in April.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, left, on Wednesday; Gov. J.B. Pritzker, right, in April.

Allison Dinner/AFP via Getty Images; Pat Nabong/Sun-Times file

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Wednesday pointed to Chicago as proof that stringent gun laws are not the solution to school shootings — a day after 19 children and two teachers were killed in a small-town elementary school in the nation’s second mass shooting in 10 days.

But the apples to oranges comparison didn’t sit well with some of Illinois’ top Democrats, with Mayor Lori Lightfoot challenging the Texas governor to be “a part of the solution or get the hell out of the way,” and Gov. J.B. Pritzker tweeting, “Shame on you, @GovAbbott.”

“You are lying about Chicago and what actually perpetuates gun violence,” the Democratic governor wrote. “The majority of guns used in Chicago shootings come from states with lax gun laws. Do better. You have 19 kids and two teachers who deserve our best.”

Ald. Gilbert Villegas (36th) was even more pointed, referring to the Republican governor as an “@sshole” on Twitter, and telling him to “keep our city’s name out of your mouth.”

Ald. Gilbert Villegas (36th) speaks at a City Council meeting.

Ald. Gilbert Villegas (36th) at a City Council meeting last year.

Ashlee Rezin/ Sun-Times file

According to authorities in Texas, Salvador Ramos used an AR-15-style semi-automatic rifle in the massacre at Robb Elementary School in the small town of Uvalde. He is believed to have legally bought two rifles just days prior to Tuesday’s shooting, soon after his 18th birthday.

During a news conference on Wednesday, Abbott, a Republican governor running for reelection, argued against suggestions of cracking down on firearms by noting there are “quote real gun laws in Chicago” and New York and California.

“I hate to say this, there are more people that are shot every weekend in Chicago than there are in schools in Texas,” Abbott said. “So, if you’re looking for a real solution, Chicago teaches that what you’re talking about is not a real solution.”

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, left, speaks during a news conference on Wednesday as U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz looks on.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, left, speaks during a news conference at Uvalde High School on Wednesday as U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, center, looks on.

Jordan Vonderhaar/Getty Images

Chicago and Illinois officials are accustomed to Republican politicians name-dropping the city and its gun violence epidemic, especially during former president Donald Trump’s administration.

But a 2017 gun trace report from the city, Chicago Police Department and the University of Chicago Crime Lab found that nearly 60 percent of guns recovered in Chicago came from out-of-state dealers.

“Not surprisingly, it is the very states with the least restrictive gun laws that are the sources of the guns coming into Chicago and being used to commit crimes,” the report concluded.

Last year, Abbott signed seven firearms bills into law, which he said protected the Second Amendment. That included a measure that allowed Texans to carry handguns without a license or permit beginning on Sept. 1, 2021 and another “protecting Texans from new federal gun control regulations.”

Still another prevents any government entity from prohibiting the sale of guns and ammunition during a declared disaster or emergency, such as a pandemic.

“Politicians from the federal level to the local level have threatened to take guns from law-abiding citizens — but we will not let that happen in Texas,” Abbott said after signing the gun package.

The mass shooting in Texas — just 10 days after a deadly rampage at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York — has once again brought to the forefront a partisan split in the reaction to such horrific events.

Democrats favor more stringent gun laws and federal firearms legislation, while Republicans contend it is a mental health problem, an opinion Abbott offered at his news conference on Wednesday before taking any questions from reporters. The National Rifle Association has said the shooting was at the hands of a “lone, deranged criminal.”

President Joe Biden on Wednesday again called on Congress to pass gun control legislation. The massacre also ups the ante for the Senate to confirm Steven M. Dettelbach, Biden’s pick to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The agency hasn’t had a permanent director since 2015.

In a tweet, Lightfoot urged Abbott to leave Chicago alone and focus on how he could stop the “carnage.”

“I work day and night to stop the violence. I see the suffering. Open your eyes,” Lightfoot wrote. “Lives are being lost. Be a part of the solution or get the hell out of the way.”

Mayor Lori Lightfoot speaks during a news conference in the East Garfield Park neighborhood last week.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot speaks during a news conference in the East Garfield Park neighborhood last week.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times file

Later at a news conference following a City Council meeting, the mayor accused Abbott of burnishing his credentials for a presidential run, at the expense of working-class Texans.

“It’s a longstanding trope to try to put a city like Chicago in their mouths and criticize us. But the fact of the matter is that guy needs to focus on taking care of business there,” Lightfoot said.

“Let’s think about the debacle that he created at the border to make it look like he was being tough on immigration. … Let’s think about the fact of his failure, utter failure to invest in the infrastructure in Texas that led to a catastrophic collapse of the electrical grid.”

U.S. Rep. Robin Kelly, who also serves as the chair of the Democratic Party of Illinois called Abbott’s claims “shameful,” while also pushing for federal gun legislation.

U.S. Rep. Robin Kelly speaks at a news conference.

U.S. Rep. Robin Kelly, D-Illinois, speaks at a news conference in April.

Brian Rich/Sun-Times file

“It is shameful that @GregAbbott_TX resorts to blowing all sorts of dog whistles about Chicago & misleading on Illinois gun safety laws,” Kelly tweeted. “Over 50% of guns used in crimes in Chicago come from out of state, including Texas. We need federal gun trafficking & straw purchasing laws.”

And U.S. Rep. Marie Newman, D-Illinois, tweeted that Abbott “doesn’t know what the hell he’s talking about.”

“The MAJORITY of illegal firearms recovered in Chicago come from out-of-state dealers in red states like Indiana or Wisconsin,” Newman wrote. “Without universal background checks, our gun laws are only as good as our neighboring states.”

Marie Newman in 2018.

Marie Newman in 2018.

Leslie Adkins/ Sun-Times file

Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul tweeted that it was “Appalling that the governor of a state where such a horrific tragedy occurred would spend his time today deflecting. We are outraged by daily gun violence in Chicago & we are outraged at the innocent lives lost in Uvalde. We can do something about both.”

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