The pen is mightier than the gun: Texas falls prey to its own lax laws
- A shootout at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas left 21 dead
- In a 2015 tweet, Governor Greg Abbott urged Texans to buy more guns
- In 2021, Texas passed a law allowing people to carry guns without a license
The Texas elementary school shooting, Tuesday, that left 18 children and three adults dead has shocked the US. The Robb Elementary School shooting is the latest deadliest mass shootout which comes after the May 14 Buffalo tragedy where a white supremacist opened fire targeting the black community, leaving 10 bodies in the wake of the massacre.
This throws the Lone Star state's lax gun laws into sharp focus, which makes Texas a "Second Amendment sanctuary".
Essentially, this is also known as a gun sanctuary, and under such conditions laws and provisions are adopted to impede or prohibit the enforcement of gun control measures like universal background checks, bans on assault weapons and high capacity magazines, and red flag laws among others.
According to Texas law, there is no specification on who can carry a long gun such as a rifle, though there are some general restrictions which prevent some from acquiring any firearms, as per the Texas State Law Library.
A new law also went into effect on September 1, 2021. This allowed people who qualify under the law, to carry handguns in public places within the state, without requiring a license to carry (LTC).
However, the law states that a person must be at least 21 to carry a firearm without a license in Texas. Salvador Ramos, the Robb Elementary School shooter, was 18.
House Bill 1927, which essentially legalized this, also allows individuals who meet the criteria to purchase firearms without a background check or necessary training.
Apart from that, Texas passed the "Second Amendment Sanctuary State Act" as part of House Bill 2622, which prevents state agencies and local governments from enforcing federal gun rules, thus saving the state from the US government's attempts at gun control.
The state also makes young adults between the ages of 18-20 eligible to carry a handgun if they're protected under family violence-related court orders, as per House Bill 918. While there are restrictions about carrying firearms in some areas, schools and colleges being among them, the Legal Services department of the Texas Association of School Boards (TASB) put together a document which notes "Whether a firearm is permitted depends on several factors, including who is carrying the firearm, the location on school property, and local school district policy, among other factors."
Signing the firearm-related bills into law, Abbott had said at the time "You could say that I signed into law today some laws that protect gun rights, but today, I signed documents that instill freedom in the Lone Star State".
The 2021 session, which came after the 2019 El Paso and Odessa shootings, had the potential to have more laws aimed at preventing gun violence as the Democrats hoped.
In the El Paso shootout, a far-right assailant had killed 23 and injured 23 more, while the Midland-Odessa shootout saw a gunman aiming at multiple people from a vehicle, killing eight, and injuring 25, including three police officers.
While Abbott had expressed concerns about private gun sales not needing background checks, the legislative steps to close the loopholes never materialized, and bills filed in response to the shootouts didn't reach the governor's desk.
After the shootout at Uvalde too, Abbott expressed his grief, tweeting "Texans are grieving for the victims of this senseless crime & for the community of Uvalde. Cecilia & I mourn this horrific loss & urge all Texans to come together."