Texas Lawmakers Move to Drop Most Handgun Licensing Requirements
Category: News & PoliticsVia: krishna • 3 weeks ago • 5 comments
By: By Neil MacFarquhar and Edgar Sandoval
A memorial for the victims of a mass shooting at a Walmart in El Paso in 2019. Credit... Joel Angel Juarez for The New York Times
More than a million people in Texas have permits to carry handguns. People often head into grocery stores, barber shops, even college campuses carrying guns for protection. In 2019, when a man in a trench coat opened fire with a shotgun in a suburban church outside of Fort Worth, more than half a dozen people who had gathered for the service responded by drawing their own firearms.
Now, within days, Gov. Greg Abbott is expected to sign a wide-ranging law that will throw much of that regulation out the window, allowing virtually anyone over the age of 21 to carry a handgun, no permit required. The landmark bill would make Texas — which has three of the nation’s 10 biggest cities — the largest among 20 other states to adopt a “constitutional carry” law that basically eliminates most restrictions on the ability to carry handguns.
Handguns have long been a central component of violent crime in urban American, and Texas has three of the country’s largest cities, Houston, San Antonio and Dallas. The number of murders spiked in major Texas cities in 2020: There were more than 397 deaths in Houston, up from 289 the year before; Dallas had 245 deaths, up from 199; and Fort Worth saw deaths through November climb to 102 from 62, according to an independent tally of police statistics.
Critics, including some senior law enforcement officers, call the new legislation a dangerous retreat from gun control amid a recent surge in gun violence, particularly in a state with a long and painfully recent history of mass shootings.
The measure passed over the objections of numerous senior law enforcement officers who warned that removing restrictions on carrying handguns would impede their efforts to quell gun violence.