As the Texas legislature returns to Austin for the start of the 2021 legislative session, lawmakers will again have the opportunity to pass common-sense gun safety bills. Gun violence prevention is more important than ever in the new year as the pandemic continues to exacerbate gun violence and after a year of increased gun sales, continued police violence, increased risk of suicide and domestic violence, and an increase in city gun violence.
After last week, when violent extremists – some of whom were reportedly armed – stormed and damaged the United States Capitol Building in an act of violent insurrection, the need to reject radical gun policies which would likely embolden extremists and vigilantes has never been more evident. Texas state law enforcement are reportedly preparing for potential armed rallies in the state capital through the presidential inauguration.
However, in the wake of the mass shootings in El Paso and Midland-Odessa, Governor Abbott issued a Safety Action Report which failed to recommend background checks on all gun sales — a bedrock gun safety policy proven to prevent gun violence. The Mass Violence Prevention and Community Safety Committee failed to seriously consider gun safety laws, instead devoting time to discussing video games. This year, lawmakers should protect Texans by rejecting dangerous legislation that would weaken our gun laws and embolden extremists, including permitless carry and “guns everywhere.”
What to know about permitless carry in Texas:
- Permitless carry legislation, like HB 299, would strip the state of essential permitting and training standards for carrying concealed guns in public. It would allow people to carry loaded handguns in public without a background check or any safety training, dismantling the culture of responsible gun ownership that Texas’s License to Carry (LTC) helps promote.
- Permitless carry would also allow people with dangerous histories – including extremists and white supremacists with criminal histories – to evade background check requirements and safeguards to responsible gun ownership.
- More information about permitless carry is available here.
What to know about “guns everywhere” legislation in Texas:
- “Guns Everywhere” legislation, like HB 304, is extreme legislation that would force guns into K-12 schools, courtrooms, and hospitals, and would allow guns in bars and other places where alcohol is served.
- Guns have no place in schools. Currently, Texas law generally prohibits firearms from being carried by members of the public into an elementary, middle, or high school building or on any grounds where a school activity is being conducted. HB 304 would dismantle this provision of Texas law, allowing armed members of the public to carry guns in schools and putting children, educators, and staff at risk.
- Guns and alcohol simply don’t mix. Under current Texas law, a person cannot carry handguns at bars and at sporting events. HB 304 would eliminate this prohibition. Drinking alcohol is associated with increased aggression, impaired judgment, and worsened aim when firing, elevating the risk of gun violence.
- There are places where the nature of the work being conducted makes the presence of guns inappropriate. Under current law, it is generally illegal for a person to carry a handgun into a courthouse or a hospital. HB 304 would allow people to carry guns into these sensitive locations – part of the gun lobby’s “guns everywhere” agenda.
What to know about gun violence in Texas:
- In Texas, on average, 3,288 people are shot and killed with a gun every year.
- An average of 1,171 people in Texas die by gun homicide every year. Black people in Texas are five times as likely to die by gun homicide as white people.
- Firearms are the second leading cause of death for children and teens in Texas. In an average year, 288 children and teens die by gun in Texas, and 54% of these deaths are homicides. Black children and teens are twice as likely as their white peers to die by guns.
Statistics about gun violence in Texas are available here, and Everytown’s Gun Law Navigator – which shows how Texas gun laws compare to those of other states – is available here.
If you have questions, or to request an interview with a volunteer from Texas Moms Demand Action, please don’t hesitate to reach out.