At least seven people were killed and another 20 were injured in a mass shooting that stretched in and around Midland and Odessa, Texas, Saturday. The incident was the second mass shooting in that state in less than a month, following a shooting in El Paso, on Aug. 3.
But less than 24 hours later, a series of new gun laws, passed in late May and early June by the Texas legislature, went into effect.
The laws were designed to ease restrictions on guns, allowing them to be carried in places of worship, during disasters and in rented and leased property.
The Law In Texas
Here’s a quick rundown of the eight new laws that went into effect on Sept. 1 in Texas:
- Senate Bill 535: allows Texans to carry guns in churches, synagogues and other places of worship, unless otherwise banned by those places with proper signage.
- Senate Bill 741: prohibits property owners’ associations from banning storage of guns on rental properties.
- House Bill 121: provides a legal defense for licensed handgun owners who unknowingly enter an establishment that bans firearms as long as they leave when asked.
- House Bill 302: prohibits landlords from banning renters and their guests from carrying firearms in lease agreements.
- House Bill 1387: loosens restrictions on the number of school marshals who can carry guns at public and private schools in Texas.
- House Bill 1177: allows Texans to carry handguns without a license during a state of disaster.
- House Bill 1143: prohibits school districts from banning licensed gun owners from storing guns and ammunition in their vehicles in parking lots.
- House Bill 2363: allows certain foster homes to store guns and ammunition in a locked location.
More than 1.2 million Texans hold active concealed carry permits as of May 2017.
The state has no laws that restrict the possession of so-called “assault” weapons or large-capacity magazines, though buyers are required to be 18 or older to buy a rifle.
Texas also doesn’t require gun owners to obtain a license or register their firearms. Law enforcement in the state does not have any discretion to deny a concealed carry permit.
In addition, if a Texas gun purchaser already has a concealed carry permit, a background check is not required. Like many other states, Texas does not require a background check for private sales or sales at gun shows.
Texas currently ranks in the middle in terms of firearm mortality according to the CDC.
In addition, recent research from Columbia University finds states with more permissive gun laws experience higher numbers of mass shootings.
According to Axios, Texas has been home to 4 of the 10 most deadly mass shootings in history, including the 2017 shooting at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs.
Across The Country
While Congress has largely refrained from passing any new federal gun laws, many state legislatures have. And so over the past decade, there is an emerging difference between states with more permissive gun laws and states with tougher, more restrictive ones.
Both Texas and Ohio, where a shooter in Dayton killed nine and injured 27, have less restrictive gun laws than other U.S. states.
The House has scheduled a hearing Wednesday to markup several new gun bills. Among them is a federal “red flag” law that would provide incentives for states to adopt laws allowing the temporary removal of guns from individuals who present a danger to themselves or others. The Senate is also expected to work on its own version of such a bill when it returns on Monday, Sept. 9.
A new APM Research Lab/Guns & America/Call To Mind poll shows that more than 70% of Americans support the enactment of so-called “red flag” laws, including 60% of gun owners.
Guns & America is a public media reporting project on the role of guns in American life.