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TX Gun Bills Face Familiar Fate as Latest Shootings Take Toll

Gun control legislation often follows high-profile mass shootings. Not so in Texas, where state leaders have repeatedly batted away restrictive measures and instead loosened gun laws, even as their state experienced at least 19 mass shootings claiming the lives of nearly 200 people over the past six decades, ProPublica and the Texas Tribune report. As the state legislature convenes for the first time since the Uvalde school shooting last May, lawmakers have once again filed a slate of gun control bills. If history is an indicator, and top legislative leaders predict it will be, they are unlikely to pass.


As Texas mass-shooting casualties stacked up over the decades, at least two dozen measures would have prevented people from legally obtaining the weapons, including assault rifles and large-capacity magazines, used in seven of the state’s mass shootings. At least five bills would have required that people seeking to obtain a gun undergo a background check. Such a check would have kept the man involved in a 2019 shooting spree in Midland and Odessa from legally purchasing the weapon because he had been deemed to have a mental illness. Seven bills would have banned the sale or possession of the semi-automatic rifle that a shooter used to kill dozens of people at an El Paso Walmart in 2019. And at least two bills would have raised the legal age to own or purchase an assault weapon from 18 to 21 years old, which would have made it illegal for the Uvalde shooter to buy the semi-automatic assault rifles. A state House committee that investigated the Uvalde massacre found that the shooter had tried to get at least two people to buy a gun for him before he turned 18 but was unsuccessful. Gun violence in Texas was again in the news after one person was killed and three people were wounded Wednesday in a shooting at an El Paso mall. The shopping center abuts the Walmart where the 2019 massacre took place; the latest incident came just a week after the shooter in the earlier case pleaded guilty to hate crimes and weapons charges. Gov. Greg Abbott has repeatedly opposed legislation regulating guns. “There are thousands of laws on the books across the country that limit the owning or using of firearms, laws that have not stopped madmen from carrying out evil acts on innocent people,” Abbott said in a prerecorded speech to the National Rifle Association three days after the Uvalde shooting. Since then, the governor has argued against legislation that would raise the age to purchase assault-style weapons in Texas, saying that a federal district court judge ruled last August that the Second Amendment prevents the state from barring 18- to 20-year-olds from carrying handguns. Texas is not appealing the ruling.

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A daily report co-sponsored by Arizona State University, Criminal Justice Journalists, and the National Criminal Justice Association

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