The Brief: Top Texas News for Dec. 18, 2012

Gov. Rick Perry campaigning for president in Pella, Iowa, on Dec. 28, 2011.
Gov. Rick Perry campaigning for president in Pella, Iowa, on Dec. 28, 2011.

The Big Conversation:

With the Newtown tragedy consuming the national political debate, Gov. Rick Perry on Monday joined the chorus of Texas voices calling for an expansion, not restriction, of gun rights.

In an at times emotional speech at a Tea Party event in North Richland Hills, Perry urged legislators to look at ways to improve safety at schools in Texas — where 78 districts have failed to meet safety standards — and to examine mental health issues.

But school districts should be allowed to decide their own gun policies, he said, drawing applause for alluding to Harrold Independent School District, which allows some staff members to carry firearms in school.

"One of the things that I hope we don’t see from our federal government is this knee-jerk reaction from Washington, D.C., when there is an event that occurs, that they come in and they think they know the answer," he said, according to The Associated Press.

Perry added that concealed-handgun license holders should be able to carry firearms "anywhere in the state." 

Perry's comments came the same day several pro-gun congressional Democrats — including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia — indicated willingness to consider new federal gun restrictions, as The New York Times reported.

In Texas, however, the loudest debate since the shooting has focused on broadening gun rights. As U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Tyler, said Sunday on Fox News: "I wish to God she had had an M4 in her office locked up so when she heard gunfire, she takes it out … and takes his head off before he can kill those precious kids."

Culled:

  • U.S. Rep. Mike Conaway, R-Midland, on Monday was named chairman of the U.S. House Ethics Committee. House Speaker John Boehner's selection of Conaway gives Texas five committee chairmanships next year, further quelling any worries among the state's GOP congressional delegation — the largest in the nation — that its power would recede next year.
  • A federal court on Monday heard the case of a San Antonio high school student who has objected, on religious grounds, to the Northside Independent School District's use of electronic ID badges. The student and her father have called the IDs — which the district uses to track attendance — a sign of the Antichrist.
  • Texas made its presidential vote official on Monday as the state's 38 electors met at the state Capitol in Austin to cast their votes for Mitt Romney. Texas will end up delivering Romney nearly 20 percent of the 206 electoral votes he won nationally.
  • Texas' two U.S. senators offered their condolences following the death of fellow Sen. Daniel Inouye of Hawaii on Monday. Inouye, a World War II veteran and the Senate's second-longest-serving member, had battled respiratory problems. "His decades of public service on behalf of the people of Hawaii were marked with passion, honor, and selflessness. He will truly be missed," Sen. John Cornyn said in a statement. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison called him a "legend" and a "kind gentleman." Inouye, a Japanese-American and the president pro tempore of the Senate, was the highest-ranking Asian-American politician in U.S. history.

"The idea that those parents took their children to school and never to see them again is not right, and we have to do everything that we can to make sure that those types of evil are restricted the best that it can be."Rick Perry in his speech Monday on the Newtown school shooting

Must-Read:

Texas Tribune donors or members may be quoted or mentioned in our stories, or may be the subject of them. For a complete list of contributors, click here.