Big wins for gun owners in Texas after Governor Greg Abbott signed into law a number of pro-gun legislation. While the NRA is celebrating the wins, others are disappointed. Below are a list of the laws that were signed and go into effect on Sep. 1 of this year.
House Bill 1177: Allows Texans to legally carry both concealed and openly when a State of Emergency has been declared. Texans evacuating from, or returning to, a declared state or local disaster will be protected from charges of a crime when carrying a handgun without a license to do so. This only applies to those citizens who are already allowed to legally possess a firearm.
The bill also provides disaster shelters the ability to exercise discretion when deciding whether to accommodate displaced citizens with firearms in their possession.
House Bill 121: Provides License to Carry holders with legal defense if they if they unknowingly enter a building which has a 30.06 and 30.07 signs posted, as long as they vacate the premises immediately after being verbally informed of the policy.
Senate Bill 772: Makes businesses which choose not to post 30.06/30.07 signs less vulnerable to frivolous lawsuits by providing civil liability protection.
House Bill 302: Prevents landlords from the use of “no firearms” clauses in future lease agreements in order to protect the Second Amendment rights of tenants. It also stipulates landlords may not interfere with gunowners transporting firearms and ammunition between personal vehicles and their home. While current leases are still under contract, landlords are required to remove any clauses that prevent renters from owning and storing firearms from future lease agreements.
House Bill 1143: Denies school districts the ability to decide how firearms are stored or locked in personal vehicles on campus grounds to include faculty.
House Bill 1791: Addresses “wrongful exclusion loopholes,” which were being exploited by some Texas cities, counties, and state agencies to prevent the entry of License to Carry holders in government buildings.
House Bill 2363: Grants foster parents the right to store firearms in their home in a safe and secure manner, while allowing quick access to the weapons for the reasons of personal defense.
According to the NRA-ILA,
“House Bill 3231 … improves and modernizes the state’s firearms preemption law, curbs the ability of municipalities to abuse their zoning authority and circumvent state law to restrict the sale or transfer of firearms and ammunition at the local level, and allows the State Attorney General to recover reasonable expenses incurred when obtaining injunctions against localities which violate the preemption statute.”
Senate Bill 535: Grants equal property rights by allowing places of worship the ability to decided for themselves whether to allow License to Carry holders and removes these places from the list of prohibited locations. This bill was introduced in response to the Nov. 2017 shooting of 26 parishioners of the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs.
Senate Bill 741: Prevents property owner associations, such as covenants and HOAs, from restricting a lawful firearm owner from transporting and storing firearms on their private property.
While many gun laws were loosened for Texas gunowners, efforts are being made to improve gun safety and help keep them out of the wrong hands.
The Statewide Safe Gun Storage Campaign
Governor Abbott signed into law a state budget bill that puts aside $500,000 in 2020 and $500,000 in 2021 fiscal year budgets to promote the Safe Gun Storage Campaign.
The effort comes after a student shooter killed 10 people at a high school near Huston in 2018 with his father’s shotgun and .38 caliber revolver.
Tara Mica the NRA’s regional lobbyist said the year so far has been,
“… highly successful. When you get 10 pro-Second Amendment bills to the governor and he signs them all, I would rank it up there with one of the most successful sessions we’ve had since I’ve been doing this,” Mica said Monday.
House Democrats attempted to get their own bills passed but proved unable to do so. A bill which sought to do away with state gun licensing rules lost large portions of its support after Speaker of the House Dennis Bonnen (R) criticized the measure’s supporters for using pressure tactics to get it passed.
Attempts to ban bump stocks and expand the number of gun free zones also failed to make it to the Governor’s desk for his signature.
House Bill 1168, which looked to ban firearms from airports, was vetoed by Governor Abbott, who wrote in a statement about the bill, that it would,
“… impose an unacceptable restraint on the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding travelers. Legislature may have intended simply to keep firearms off the tarmac, but the bill as drafted would newly prohibit carrying in any part of the airport terminal building, even ahead of the TSA inspection checkpoint.”
Rep. Rafael Anchia (D), who authored the bill, said Abbott misinterpreted it. He insists the bill, which received both bi-partisan and Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport support, would only make it a crime to carry a gun on the tarmac or boarding ramps.
Anchia said he went to significant effort to ensure the bill would pass by working with gun groups to ensure they wouldn’t hamper it by asking Abbott to veto. But the Governor did anyway.
“We bent over backwards,” Anchia said. “This is an agreed-to bill that has broad bipartisan support and we couldn’t even get this done, so I am highly pessimistic that we can get any reasonable gun safety bills passed in the Texas Legislature with this governor in place.”
Other challengers of the pro-gun laws to go into effect on Sep. 1 are equally discouraged but remain dedicated to their opposition.
“When we pass bills like this, it sends a message to gun owners that they need not be responsible,” said Elva Mendoza, a leader of the Texas chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.
Mendoza went on to say she was disappointed the red flag bills did not pass, and her organization has a long road ahead of it in fighting against the measures.
“We definitely have our continued work cut out for us. These are things that we are going to be working on over time.” She said
The State of Texas also awarded a grant of $1 million to the National Shooting Sports Foundation to distribute Project ChildSafe firearm safety kits through LE and community partners.
Also of note, Govenor Abbott signed a bill that removes brass knuckles from the list of the Texas Penal Code’s prohibited weapons, which defines brass knuckles as:
“Any instrument that consists of finger rings or guards made of a hard substance and that is designed, made, or adapted for the purpose of inflicting serious bodily injury or death by striking a person with a fist enclosed in the knuckles.”
Those who supported HB 446 said:
“Law-abiding Texans who carry knuckles, perhaps as part of a novelty key chain, should not be vulnerable to jail time for possessing a legitimate self-defense tool.”
The law is set to go into effect with the other laws in this article on Sep. 1 of this year, but until then a citizen may be charged with a Class A Misdemeanor, up to one year of jail time or a maximum fine of $4000.