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The Brief: Aug. 14, 2012

Monday's deadly shooting near Texas A&M University has inevitably touched off yet another round of national debate over gun rights.

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The Big Conversation:

Monday's deadly shooting near Texas A&M University has inevitably touched off yet another round of national debate over gun rights.

According to local authorities, a gunman in College Station on Monday afternoon opened fire on police after receiving an eviction notice, killing two people, including a constable, and injuring four others. The gunman, whom police shot and killed, was later identified as Thomas Caffall, 35, who appears to have left an online trail.

Following the Colorado movie theater massacre in July and the attack on a Sikh temple in Wisconsin on Aug. 5, the College Station incident has become the latest fatal shooting to spark a political debate — one that the presidential race has only amplified.

Gov. Rick Perry on Monday, in an appearance on Fox News to discuss job creation, reiterated his support for gun rights.

"When it gets back to this issue of taking guns away from law-abiding citizens and somehow know that’s going to make our country safer, it’s just I don’t agree with that," Perry said, adding, "Criminals are never going to listen to the laws. They’re always going to have weapons or whatever source they want, whether legal or illegal, and I think it’s wise for the people of the state of Texas to be able to defend themselves when there is a law-breaker that comes into their midst with a weapon."

Meanwhile, Mitt Romney, in Florida on a swing-state tour, echoed Perry's comments but said the matter required "thoughtful consideration."

"I happen to believe that this is not a matter of the weapon that is used — it's a matter of the individuals and the choices these people make, and we have to understand how to prevent those kinds of choices from being made," Romney said at a press conference in Miami, according to CBS News. "I don't think gun laws are the answer, but I do believe that this is a topic that needs to be considered."

The Bryan-College Station Eagle has more on the shooting and Brian Bachmann, the Brazos County constable killed in the shootout.


  • A federal appeals court on Monday ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency's rejection of Texas' air permit program violated the federal Clean Air Act. The court said the EPA had overstepped its bounds and called the agency's rejection of the permit program "untimely." The state, embroiled in a long-running battle with the EPA, hailed the decision. "This ruling is a victory for Texas jobs and confirms what we’ve said from the start — that the EPA’s actions were baseless and nothing more than a federal power grab by an administration that is desperate to extend its control over businesses, with no regard for the consequences of their actions," Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott said in a statement.
  • The U.S. Justice Department, as well as dozens of third-party groups and 38 state legislators, filed amicus briefs with the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday defending the University of Texas at Austin's use of race in its admissions process. The high court will hear a challenge to UT's admissions process in October, and the ruling is expected to decide the fate of racial preferences in higher education and other public institutions. "Numerous federal agencies — including the Departments of Defense, Justice, Education, Commerce, Labor, Homeland Security, and Health and Human Services, among others — have concluded that well-qualified and diverse graduates are crucial to the fulfillment of their missions," said the government's brief.
  • As the Tribune's Emily Ramshaw writes today, if newly named vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan's controversial plan for restructuring Medicare and Medicaid sounds familiar, that's because it strongly resembles legislation that Texas Republicans fought for and passed in 2011. Ryan's plan, however, goes further than Texas' in its plans for reforming Medicare, which Texas lawmakers have avoided touching.

"The actions of the EPISD reflect not only an utter disregard for the needs of students served by the district but also a willingness to cast aside basic principles that form the foundation of our systems of instruction and accountability."Richard Todd Webster, chief deputy commissioner of the Texas Education Agency, in a letter concerning a cheating scandal in El Paso public schools, as reported by the El Paso Times


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