Texas Republicans Promised Gun Safety Action After El Paso Shooting. They Passed Permitless Carry Instead.

Texas Republicans Promised Gun Safety Action After El Paso Shooting. They Passed Permitless Carry Instead.

A M&P Shield handgun is shown in Austin on April 23. The Legislature passed a bill allowing Texans to carry handguns without a license or training, an expansion of gun rights so divisive Republican leaders in previous years refused to touch it. There was hope in the air when state lawmakers from El Paso arrived in Austin for the 2021 Texas Legislature. For them, this was going to be the year they passed substantive firearm restrictions in gun-loving Texas — an unreachable, unfathomable goal for any other Legislative session. But this wasn’t just any session. It was lawmakers’ first gathering since 2019, when 30 people were killed and dozens more were injured in back-to-back mass shootings in El Paso and Midland-Odessa . The tragedies were so earth-shattering that they moved Texas’ Republican leaders at the time to express an uncharacteristic openness to some gun control measures backed by Democrats. Gov. Greg Abbott swore to do “everything we can to make sure a crime like this doesn’t happen again,” proposing a slew of policies to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and other people who should not possess them. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick famously said he was “willing to take an arrow” from the National Rifle Association in order to pursue stronger background check laws. What happened instead was a whiplash-inducing pivot in the opposite direction. The Legislature, which ended its work last week, passed House Bill 1927, allowing Texans to carry handguns without a license or training […]

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