Texas’ New Firearms Laws Are a Gift to the Gun Industry
Texas experienced its second mass shooting in a month on Saturday. A gunman, stopped by police for a traffic violation, killed seven people and injured 22 in a drive-by rampage outside Odessa. Less than a day after the murders, new legislation went into effect, not to limit the prevalence of firearms, but, as CNN reported Sunday, to “make it easier to have guns just a month after a shooter stormed a Walmart in El Paso and killed 22 people.”
House Bills 1143, 1387, 2363, 302 and 1177 will, collectively, allow licensed gun owners to store (concealed) guns inside parked cars on school grounds, store guns in foster homes, have guns in all rental properties, and carry handguns during a disaster. Schools will also be allowed to appoint more armed marshals. Last, but not least, Texas Senate Bill 535 will let licensed gun owners carry firearms in houses of worship.
Other states, when confronted with mass shootings, have tended to strengthen gun control laws, according to a 2016 working paper from Harvard Business School, which counted 20,400 pieces of gun legislation in the last 25 years, of which 3,000 were passed. According to researchers, state legislatures are typically quicker to act than Congress. California’s state legislature, in response to a 2015 mass shooting, passed six gun control bills in 2016. After the 2018 shooting in Parkland, Fla., state legislatures passed 50 new gun control laws, according to the Pew Charitable Trust’s 2018 Stateline Legislative Review.
“It’s not that nothing changes after a mass shooting,” Deepak Malhotra, one of the paper’s authors, told NPR in 2016, adding, “A lot of the action on [gun control] happens across states instead of at the federal level.”
When the state legislatures are controlled by Republicans however, those laws tend to look more like the recent bills from Texas, loosening gun restrictions rather than enacting gun control.
“It makes no sense to disarm the good guys and leave law-abiding citizens defenseless where violent offenders break the law to do great harm,” State Sen. Donna Campbell, co-sponsor of SB 535, said in a statement, explaining that the new law improved on unclear and “clunky” previous legislation.
During a press conference, after a reporter asked Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, “What do you say to people who look at [the new laws] and say that Texas went in the wrong direction”? Abbott answered with a defense of the new legislation: “Some of these laws were enacted to make our communities safer,” referring specifically, as as Vox reported, to the law that will add more armed marshals to Texas schools.
Gun control advocates like Kris Brown, president at the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, were horrified. “Many states took the opportunity in the last two years to learn lessons from the tragedies in Las Vegas, Sutherland Springs, Parkland, and the everyday gun violence that plagues our citizens, and enacted new laws to protect public safety through expanded background checks and extreme risk laws,” Brown told CNN.
After the Odessa shooting was first reported, Julián Castro, presidential candidate and former mayor of San Antonio, said on Twitter that he wanted to ask Senate Republicans, “How many Americans are you willing to sacrifice to the NRA?”
Texas has been the site of four of the ten deadliest mass shootings in recent decades.Your support matters…
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