• Texas Family Project

Protecting Texans from Gun Violence: WE MUST DO BETTER

by Texas Family Project

This month Texas has once again been rocked by gun violence. The Wal-Mart mass shooting in El Paso took the lives of 22 people and injured 25 injured. This is being investigated not only as domestic terrorism, but a hate crime. It appears that Hispanics were being targeted by an individual who wrote and online published a manifesto with White Nationalist terminology.

This is not the first mass shooting in Texas. In fact, CNN reports that 4 of the 10 deadliest shootings in modern American history have taken place in Texas. What’s frightening is that unlike Florida where after their string of violence led to tightening of gun laws, Texas has already passed laws that will take effect on Sept 1 that will loosen gun laws even further, despite this latest event. There are 6 new laws that will now allow guns in churches, school grounds, foster homes, loosening the restrictions on school districts regarding the number of marshals allowed in schools, banning property owners from prohibiting firearms in their rental properties, and protecting residents from criminal charges for carrying a weapon during an evacuation.

Many of us in Texas are angry, frustrated, and motivated to try and push for changes in gun laws in Texas. Of course, with Texas still having the reputation of being part of the Wild West, this is a tall order. It is part of the culture here, but for some of us seeing someone in the local Starbucks with an automatic weapon draped over his arm is rather unnerving.

The good guy with the gun argument is wearing thin when we all know that Walmart is not a gun free zone and that several people admitted to having a gun on their person during that shooting in El Paso but were too hesitant to use it. After all, unlike video games, where you are usually clearly able to see who is a good guy and who is a bad guy, in real life people don’t have a sign over their heads so you know who to shoot.

Speaking of video games, our very own Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, joined the chorus of those out there that say violence in gaming causes violence in life. However, the studies have shown over and over that this is just not true.

The mental health correlation with violence is also a prevalent excuse these days despite the repeated claims from mental health experts that those with mental health issues are more likely to be victims than perpetrators. It seems that, especially when speaking of a white shooter, people like to say that they are mentally ill, but many professionals agree that hate is not a mental illness, despite the belief that only a crazy person would commit mass murder.

Besides, mental illness, video games, hatred and racism all exist in other countries. The one factor that sets apart America and especially Texas is the number of guns and the ease of their availability. Those against regulating gun ownership, refer back to the second amendment of our constitution incorporated in December of 1791, which states that our citizens have the right to bear arms and form a well-regulated militia. Do they not see well-regulated in the wording?

Somehow, we are supposed to believe that our forefathers knew that the single shot musket would turn into the killing machines of today and that they were okay with that. The rights of gun owners should not supersede the rights of citizens to not have to live in fear for their lives wherever they go.

No one is saying that you can’t own a gun, but regulating gun ownership by implementing universal background checks, adding red flag laws, limiting ownership to nonmilitary style weapons, and adding a waiting period so that our law enforcement officials can verify applications does not seem unreasonable, especially if it means saving lives. We made massive changes to our air travel system in the wake of 9/11, inconveniencing travelers in the name of safety; why can’t we do the same with guns?

So how do we make the necessary changes so badly needed in Texas? We should be doing all we can to protect Texans’ right to live free from hate and inequality in safe communities, schools, and workplaces. We must do our best to support candidates, legislation, and organizations that share these values. We cannot remain silent and sit idly by. We must all speak out when we see injustice. We must demand that our legislators take actions not only on gun control but also on reducing hate in our communities. Texas is better than this.

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