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NO LICENSE TO KILL

Recent laws made it even easier to own and carry guns in Texas

A kid is surrounded by law enforcement in Uvalde, Texas
No protection.
  • Annalisa Merelli
By Annalisa Merelli

Senior reporter based in New York City

Published

A man shot and killed at least 19 children and one teacher at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas on Tuesday, the 27th school shooting in the US so far this year.

The perpetrator, who was killed by the police, was identified as Salvador Ramos, an 18-year-old from the local community, which is some 80 miles west of San Antonio. The man entered the school with a handgun and possibly a rifle, although details of the weapons, and how he got them, are still to be confirmed.

“What happened in Uvalde is a horrific tragedy that cannot be tolerated in the state of Texas,” said governor Gregg Abbott. Last year, Abbott—an enthusiastic promoter of gun ownership who is scheduled to speak at the National Rifle Association‘s annual meeting this coming weekend in Houston—signed 22 pieces of legislation that made it easier to buy, carry, and own guns in the state.

Unlicensed carry, lower minimum age, no federal limits

Under the Unlicensed Carry Law, as of September, anyone 21 or older can carry a handgun in most places without any need for training or a permit. (Texans still need licenses to carry guns in schools or colleges, although requirements can vary depending on the school and location; private businesses can also ban guns.)

While the official minimum age to own and carry a gun in Texas remains 21, another law that came into effect in September allows people between 18 and 21 to buy a handgun if they otherwise meet the requirements to own one and are under an emergency protection order by a magistrate. According to the new rule, people who are under threat of family violence, including stalking, or forced prostitution, can submit a request for a gun license.

Other gun-friendly laws foster homes now allow foster homes to store guns and ammunitions together, rather than separately; gun owners to visibly display their weapons while in a motor vehicle; and junior marshals to carry concealed guns instead of storing them in schools and colleges.

During the same legislative session, Abbott signed the Second Amendment Sanctuary Act, which forbids local agencies from enforcing new federal gun rules. Further, government agencies in the state, including cities, counties, and school districts, are banned from signing contracts with businesses that discriminate against the firearm industry.

Nearly 60% of Texans were against allowing guns to be carried in public places without a license, and almost half said they were in favor of making gun laws stricter, according to a poll by the University of Texas and the Texas Tribune last April.

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