Texas' Latest Pro-Gun Laws Kick In
Never let it be said that Texas lawmakers have done nothing to respond to mass shootings
Never let it be said that Texas lawmakers have done nothing to respond to increasingly frequent massacres by gun like those that occurred in August in El Paso and Midland/Odessa. They have certainly responded – they've made it easier to acquire guns, easier to keep them, and less likely for gun owners to incur legal consequences.
Here are a (selected) few of the gun laws enacted by 2019's 86th Texas Legislature; all of the gun laws signed by Gov. Greg Abbott loosened existing restrictions on ownership and possession:
• HB 121: Provides a defense of licensed gun owners for entering a "no guns allowed" establishment
• HB 302: Prohibits landlords from restricting gun possession by tenants
• SB 741: Prohibits property owners associations from imposing regulations on gun possession and storage, or "lawful discharge"
• HB 1143: Prohibits school districts from regulating gun storage in parking areas
• HB 1177: Allows unlicensed gun owners to carry during disaster evacuations
You might remember that in 2015, Abbott lamented the news that Californians were buying firearms in greater numbers than Texans. "I'm EMBARRASSED," Abbott tweeted. "Let's pick up the pace Texans." Of the 2019 response, Kris Brown of gun control organization Brady told CNN: "Texas lawmakers ... doubled down on an NRA-led agenda to encourage guns everywhere, no matter the risks and costs to safety." Abbott is now suggesting "expedited executions" as a response to gun violence. Since Texas already executes many more people than any other state, it's unclear how this is supposed to be effective.
One proposal that didn't make it through the legislative gauntlet this spring – covered in identical House Bill 131 and Senate Bill 157, respectively authored by Rep. Joe Moody and Sen. José Rodriguez, both El Paso Democrats – would have created extreme risk protective orders, better known as a red flag law, allowing prosecutors and family members to petition the courts to temporarily remove firearms from people in crisis. As authorities have pieced together a narrative for the chaotic bloodshed in the Permian Basin, reports indicate that the shooter, killed by police, was in a deteriorating psychological state and perhaps could have been disarmed under a red flag law; neither bill so much as received a hearing this past session.
Although the current attention to gun violence in Texas stems from the recent headline massacres, the Gun Violence Archive (www.gunviolencearchive.org) reports that there have been 20 "mass shootings" in Texas in 2019 (four or more people killed or wounded, not including the shooter). Across the country this year, the GVA reports that as of Tuesday, Sept. 3, there have been 289 mass shootings and 10,018 deaths by gun homicide overall.