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In a state that's reeling from one of the worst gun massacres in U.S. history, it will soon become easier, not harder, for people to get guns and carry them in public places.
Come September 1, it’ll be easier for Texans to carry firearms in churches, on school grounds, and in foster homes. That’s thanks to a handful of pro-gun measures that were passed before the shooting in El Paso that killed 22 people and wounded two dozen others.
Here are five of the new laws that will go into effect in three weeks, not even a month after the horror in El Paso:
More people with guns at schools
House Bill (HB) 1387 removes limits on the number of designated staff members who can carry guns at schools, known as school marshals. Until now, a school could have one marshal for every 200 students, or one marshal per building.
More guns on school grounds
HB 1143 says a school district can’t stop a licensed gun owner — including school employees — from storing a gun in a locked car in a school parking lot, so long as it’s not in plain view.
Kris Brown, president of gun violence prevention advocacy group Brady, told CNN the bill was Texas lawmakers “[doubling] down on an NRA led agenda to encourage guns everywhere, no matter the risks and costs to safety."
Making it easier to carry in church
Senate Bill 535 makes it clear that handgun owners are legally allowed to carry their firearm at a place of worship.
“The existing statute is confusing and clunky and has kept law-abiding Texans from exercising their second [amendment] rights where those with evil intentions have tragically targeted innocent lives,” state Sen. Donna Campbell, co-sponsor of the bill, said in a statement when the bill passed through the House in March. “This bill provides clarity of the Legislature’s intent to treat churches and houses of worship in the same manner as other privately owned establishments in Texas.”
A gunman killed 26 people at a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas two years ago.
Guns in foster homes
HB 2363 loosens restrictions on foster parents storing guns and ammo in the same locked location, so long as it’s properly secured.
Landlords can’t keep guns out
HB 302 bans landlords from creating lease agreements that keep tenants from lawfully possessing, carrying, transporting, or storing a firearm.
The new laws come as Texas, and the nation at large, is left reeling from the mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton, Ohio, where a gunman killed nine people outside a crowded bar. President Donald Trump has called for some limited gun reform measures, while also blaming video games and “mentally ill monsters” for the shootings.
The National Rifle Association, which supported all of the pro-gun bills in Texas, said in a recent statement that its “deepest sympathies are with the families and victims of these tragedies” but that it would not “participate in the politicizing of” the shootings.
Cover: People visit a makeshift memorial at the scene of a mass shooting at a shopping complex, Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2019, in El Paso, Texas. (AP Photo/John Locher)