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The Republican-dominated state legislature approved a bill last Monday allowing residents to carry handguns without a license, training or background checks.
- Texas already has some of the loosest gun laws of any United States state.
- The Republican-dominated state legislature approved a bill last Monday allowing residents to carry handguns without a license, training or background checks.
- Two bills were also approved after “prohibiting companies from discriminating against firearm or ammunition industries,” and “allowing hotel guests to carry and store a handgun or handgun ammunition.”
- These bills were met with strong support from Texas Republican Governor Greg Abbott, who said his state was “on its way to becoming a 2nd Amendment Sanctuary” on his Twitter last week.
- Several pro-gun lobbying groups, such as the National Rifle Association (NRA), also applauded the new law, saying that it was protecting constitutional rights and liberties.
- But, many gun safety groups, as well as law enforcement officials, are worried that this new legislation would put both police and the general public in danger.
- This also comes after Biden called gun violence in America “an international embarrassment” in early April.
Why is the new legislation so controversial?
- Texas has a population of around 28 million and has more than 1.6 million licensed handgun carriers.
- The state also had two major mass shootings in the past five years; one in 2019 at a Walmart in El Paso where 21 people were killed, and one at the Santa Fe High School outside of Houston where 10 people were killed a year earlier.
- The Santa Fe High School shooting was the deadliest school shooting to occur in the US since the 2018 Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida.
- While many Texans support the pro-gun law, saying that it will keep residents safer, many are worried that it will increase gun violence across the state.
What previous laws were in place?
- Even though Texas is known for having loose gun laws, there are a few restrictions right now.
- Before this bill was introduced, residents needed a license for both concealed carry (carrying a handgun in public in a concealed manner) and open carry (visibly carrying a handgun in public).
- Long guns such as rifles and shotguns were the only firearms that did not require a license to openly carry.
- 20 other states have already introduced “constitutional carry” laws, which allows all firearms to be carried unlicensed like the proposed bill in Texas right now.
- Texas lawmakers have been trying to introduce similar laws in their home state for years, going as far as suing the Obama administration 48 times during his two terms for his executive orders (EO) on gun control.
Who supports the new legislation?
- Many Texas lawmakers, primarily Republicans, support the new bills because they believe it will uphold the Second Amendment of the country’s Constitution.
- They also believe that it will be providing Texas residents with protection of their civil liberties and the right to defend themselves.
- Along with the state legislators who support the new bills are pro-gun groups such as the NRA.
- NRA Spokesman, Jason Ouimet, called the new legislation the “most significant gun-rights measure in Texas history.”
- Ouimet also said that “a right requiring you to pay a tax or obtain a government permission slip is not a right at all,” pointing to the gun laws in Texas now.
Who opposes the new legislation?
- Various law enforcement groups across Texas oppose the law saying that they are skeptical about how effective it will be in preventing crime and gun violence.
- Others opposed to the bills included Democratic Representative Joe Moody.
- Moody, who represents El Paso, said in his speech that in 2019, there were many promises for new reforms in gun safety following the mass shooting but has “yet to hear those promises since.”
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