Addressing a shocked and grieving nation following the massacre of 19 4th-grade students and two teachers in an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, President Biden expressed the outrage many of us were feeling about the accessibility of guns: “The idea that an 18-year-old kid can walk into a gun store and buy two assault weapons — it’s just wrong.”
“What in God’s name do you need an assault weapon for, except to kill someone?” he continued, referencing the two AR-15s recovered from the scene at Robb Elementary School.
The Houston Chronicle has reported that the shooter purchased an AR-15-style rifle on the day after his recent 18th birthday. Such a purchase is legal in Texas. While officials have not confirmed that this was one of the weapons used in the shooting, we do know that Governor Greg Abbott has taken advantage of every opportunity to make guns more widely accessible in the Lone Star State, even going as far as to encourage Texans to buy more guns.
On October 28, 2015, Abbott tweeted a Houston Chronicle article reporting FBI data that requests to purchase guns in Texas had topped 1 million, but remained lower than California’s, writing, “Let’s pick up the pace Texans,” and tagging the NRA.
Abbott’s commitment to saturating the state with deadly weapons — and making them easier to carry by more people — has been unyielding. In 2021 he signed into law over a dozen measures designed to get more guns into the hands of Texans, boasting that June, “You could say that I signed into law today some laws that protect gun rights, but today I signed documents that instilled freedom in the Lone Star State.”
The laws that took effect on September 1, 2021, include the following:
- “Permitless carry,” allowing Texans who legally own guns to carry them in public without a license. Prior to this, in order to get a license, a person had to complete training, pass a written exam and a shooting proficiency test, and submit fingerprints;
- “Second Amendment Sanctuary,” prohibiting state officials from enforcing new federal gun regulations, was designed to protect Texans from measures like background checks or assault weapons bans, should those ever be passed at the national level;
- a law preventing the government from stopping the sale or transportation of weapons during a declared disaster or emergency;
- a law exempting silencers made and sold in Texas from federal regulations;
- a law allowing people to carry guns in more kinds of holsters, not just shoulder or belt ones;
- a law allowing school marshals to carry concealed handguns instead of storing them.
In response to 2019’s mass shootings in Midland-Odessa and El Paso, a couple of safety measures did squeak through in 2021. One made it a state crime to lie on a background check to illegally purchase a gun, the other created a statewide active shooter alert system.
One law that went into effect immediately, on June 14, 2021, requires officials to use “best practices” in implementing lockdown and other drills, requiring that such procedures be “age appropriate and developmentally appropriate.”
It’s noteworthy that Abbott and other Texas lawmakers took a moment to consider the toll it takes on children when they are forced to practice hiding from a gunman in their classrooms. But an imaginary shooter doesn’t traumatize kids the way a real one does. Texas doesn’t need any more laws regulating active shooter drills. What would protect children in Texas, and every other state, are reasonable, logical laws that would keep deadly assault weapons out of the hands of potential murderers. Laws that exist in most every other developed country on the planet, and laws that are proven to stop mass shootings.