A new set of gun laws are coming into place in Texas, US – which will make it easier to carry and store armed weapons at schools and churches.
The US state of Texas has been ravaged by four of the worst mass shootings in the country’s modern history; most recently, a gunman opened fire in an El Paso Walmart, killing 22 people.
Before this attack took place, a new set of firearms laws were passed which will make it easier to have guns across Texas; a state already known for its lax legislation on weapons.
Going into effect on September 1, House Bill 1143 outlines that a school district cannot prohibit gun owners, including school employees, from storing an armed weapon or ammunition in a locked vehicle in the school car park – as long as they’re not in plain sight.
As reported by CNN, Kris Brown, president of gun violence prevention advocacy group Brady, criticised the bill:
Many states took the opportunity in the last two years to learn lessons from the tragedies in Las Vegas, Sutherland Springs, Parkland, and the every day gun violence that plagues our citizens, and enacted new laws to protect public safety through expanded background checks and extreme risk laws, which allow families and law enforcement to remove guns temporarily from individuals at risk of harming themselves or others.
The new laws also loosen restrictions on how many armed school marshals a school district are able to appoint.
Texas lawmakers, instead of reacting to the horrific shooting in Santa Fe by focusing on keeping guns out of dangerous hands, or even emphasizing safe storage of guns, instead doubled down on a [National Rifle Association] led agenda to encourage guns everywhere, no matter the risks and costs to safety.
In May 2018, a teenager used a shotgun and revolver to kill 10 people and wound 10 others in Santa Fe High School, Texas. The kicker is, this isn’t even one of the worst shootings in the state.
In August 1966, a student and ex-marine perched in a clock tower at the University of Texas in Austin took out 13 people and wounded more than 30 others. In October 1991, a man rammed his pickup truck through the front of Luby’s Cafeteria in Killeen, before shooting and killing 23 people. At a baptist church in Sutherland Springs in November 2017, a man killed 26 people before shooting himself.
The latter incident makes the next pill particularly hard to swallow: Senate Bill 535 permits possession of firearms at churches, synagogues or other places of worship, allowing licensed handgun owners to legally carry their weapons.
As reported by CNN, Senator Donna Campbell, co-sponsor of the bill, said in a statement:
We have learned many times over that there is no such thing as a gun free zone. Those with evil intentions will violate the law and carry out their heinous acts no matter what… 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.
The existing statute is confusing and clunky when it comes to clearly stating the rights of licensed Texans to carry on the premises of a church. This bill provides clarity of the Legislature’s intent to treat churches in the same manner as other privately owned establishments in Texas.
The new legislation also outlines the following: foster homes can store firearms in a safe and secure place; homeowners or landlords of rental property cannot prohibit residents lawfully possessing, carrying, transporting or storing guns and ammunition; and residents cannot be charged for having a handgun while evacuating from a disaster area.
The second amendment of the US Constitution reads: ‘the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.’ This is a mainstay of the Republican party, with the NRA forming a core of the their electoral infrastructure, which has dominated Texas since the 1990s.
In the hours after El Paso, a gunman opened fire in Dayton, Ohio, killing nine people. The Gun Violence Archive defines a mass shooting as ‘when four or more people, not including the shooter, are shot or killed’ – there have been 261 mass shootings in the US in 2019 alone.
All the while Donald Trump attributes gun violence to the ‘gruesome and grisly video games that are now commonplace‘ and Second Amendment evangelicals protest gun control measures.
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After graduating from Glasgow Caledonian University with an NCTJ and BCTJ-accredited Multimedia Journalism degree, Cameron ventured into the world of print journalism at The National, while also working as a freelance film journalist on the side, becoming an accredited Rotten Tomatoes critic in the process. He’s now left his Scottish homelands and took up residence at UNILAD as a journalist.