Editorial: Approving HB1927 amid a spike in US mass shootings is insensitive and dangerous

The Texas House approved House Bill 1927 on April 15 and is sending it to the Texas Senate for final approval. This bill would allow handguns to be carried without a permit.  

As of April 19, the bill does not have enough support to pass Texas Senate, according to Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick.

The Shorthorn editorial board condemns this bill. While we understand the importance of the Second Amendment and the right to important personal freedoms, the timing of this legislation makes it a tone-deaf response to our country’s problem with mass shootings. With gun violence on the rise in the U.S., Texas’ Firearm Carry Act of 2021 is a counterintuitive action to prevent future violence. 

As of April 19, there have been 155 mass shootings in the U.S. this year, and 17 occurred in Texas, according to Gun Violence Archive. 

In the wake of recent gun violence tragedies, when lawmakers were called upon to take action, they responded with laws that would strengthen Texans’ ability to carry a weapon. This latest piece of legislation will allow anyone 21 and older to carry handguns without a license as long as they are not barred from owning one by state or federal law.  

Rep. Matt Schaefer, R-Tyler, the bill’s author, described a scenario in which a woman who did not have the time and resources to obtain a license to carry didn’t feel safe walking in a neighborhood. This is a flawed argument. Of course, women should have access to firearms if that’s how they choose to stay safe, but making it easier for women and everyone else to carry a handgun without a license will not make women safer.  

For most Texans, including the UTA community, the division on this hotly debated issue remains steady. According to previous Shorthorn reporting, students are deeply divided on what should be restricted in terms of gun control and how the issue of gun violence should be addressed. 

Handguns were responsible for the majority of gun murders in 2016, comprising 64% of the 10,982 U.S. gun murders in 2017, according to the FBI. It stands to reason that making it easier to carry handguns would only exacerbate the issue.

Previous Shorthorn reporting states people are hyper-aware of the threat of gun violence because it is so prevalent. One way to quell those fears would be limiting gun ownership.

While personal protection and self-defense are cited as top reasons to own a gun, these factors don’t account for all types of gun violence. When gun sales spike, so do accidental shooting rates. 

Gun laws should make it more difficult for the wrong people to obtain a weapon. Requiring background checks for all private sales is one potential approach. Every private sale should be notarized by a licensed dealer who can do a background check, and safe storage of guns should be mandated. 

According to The Crime Report, gun owners rarely face repercussions if their gun is stolen and used to commit a crime. Texas ranks number one for stolen guns taken from individual owners. A monetary fine could encourage gun owners to store their guns more securely. 

Enhanced background checks and enforcement of a 10-day waiting period could curb gun violence. The ability to buy a gun and use it the same day can be a recipe for violence if that potential gun owner is mentally unstable. 

We need laws that address the complex issue of gun violence. Addressing the many facets of gun violence and taking a compassionate, nuanced approach to solving mass shootings is what Texas needs now. Reach out to your state senator and voice your concern for the action they are taking.

The Shorthorn Editorial Board is made up of opinion editor Katecey Harrell; Editor-in-Chief Cecilia Lenzen; associate news editor Spencer Brewer; Samantha Knowles, life and entertainment editor; sports editor Adrian Rodriguez; news reporter Thevnin Rumende; and copy editor Jill Bold. 

opinion-editor.shorthorn@uta.edu

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