FORT WORTH, Texas – More than a dozen students and a teacher are dead after a mass shooting at a Texas elementary school. The mass shooting is one of several in Texas in recent years, including attacks at a church in Sutherland Springs, a high School in Santa Fe, a Walmart in El Paso and in the Midland-Odessa area.
Responding to the shootings, there have been calls for Texas to do more to prevent mass shootings and tighten gun laws, but the Texas legislature has largely loosened laws related to access to firearms.
Here’s how Texas has responded to mass shootings and where gun laws stand in Texas.
2019 legislative session
The 2019 legislative session, which started in January of that year, was the first after the shootings at Santa Fe High School and the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs. Twenty-six people and a pregnant woman were killed in the church shooting. Ten were killed at the High School northeast of Galveston.
During the session, lawmakers passed legislation to bolster the number of school marshals and to increase mental health resources. Senate Bill 11 aimed to hire more mental health counselors and create threat assessment teams. It also allocated roughly $100 million for schools to secure campuses and established the Texas Child Mental Health Care Consortium to address students’ mental health needs.
The legislature also passed a law allowing people to carry guns at places of worship, as long as the place of worship doesn’t prohibit it.
However, the legislature didn’t take steps to restrict access to guns. The National Rifle Association cheered the session as “highly successful” after 10 gun-related bills it supported were made law.
2021 legislative session
Round tables were again held in the aftermath of the Odessa-Midland and El Paso shootings. There was hope, particularly among the El Paso delegation, that the legislature would take action to restrict access to guns, but those efforts largely fell flat.
The legislature did pass a law expanding access to guns – permitless carry, which had failed to gain traction in previous sessions. The law, often referred to by supporters as “constitutional carry,” removes the requirement for a license to carry a handgun. Texans have already been able to carry rifles without a license. People can still opt to have a license if they choose.
Two laws were passed responding to the shootings, according to the Texas Tribune. A bill creating a Texas Active Shooter Alert System by Rep. Brooks Landgraf, R-Odessa, and a bill by Sen. Cesar Blanco, D-El Paso, making it a state jail felony for a person not allowed to possess a firearm to lie on a submitted form when trying to buy one.