Mass shootings in Colorado and Georgia have returned the issue of gun violence to the national agenda. But in Texas, where four recent mass shootings in a three-year span took more than 60 lives, Republican lawmakers in the Texas Legislature have filed several measures that would expand gun rights.
Brandon Rottinghaus is a political science professor at the University of Houston. He told Texas Standard that legislative responses to mass shootings, particularly the Santa Fe High School shooting, focused on public safety and providing more training for school employees and security personnel, rather than regulating possession of weapons.
Bills introduced during the current session would allow for the so-called constitutional carry of firearms, which would repeal current requirements to obtain a permit to carry a handgun and could also expedite the ability to obtain a gun license for people covered by a protective order that would otherwise restrict their ability to carry a gun legally.
“It’s really kind of attempting to remove the administrative or bureaucratic levers to obtaining a handgun,” Rottinghaus said.
Electoral gains made by Republicans during the 2020 election have emboldened efforts to relax gun restrictions, he says.
“It’s also been a kind of battle cry among the right to say that Republicans have been in the majority for two decades and this is a moment where they want to see legislation,” he said.
Other bills under consideration would allow election judges to carry guns, while another would identify Texas as a “sanctuary” for guns, declaring that firearms and ammunition made or sold in the state are not subject to federal restrictions.
Another bill would declare a tax-free weekend for guns and hunting supplies.
Rottinghaus says public opinion polls haven’t shown that Texans support continuing expansion of gun rights, particularly in light of high-profile mass shootings.