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Texas to loosen firearm laws, allowing guns in churches and on school grounds

Posted: 9:11 AM, Aug 07, 2019
Updated: 2019-08-07 09:11:36-04
Texas to loosen firearm laws, allowing guns in churches and on school grounds

A series of new firearm laws will go into effect in Texas next month -- further loosening gun restrictions in a state that's had four of the 10 deadliest mass shootings in modern US history.

The laws -- passed before a gunman massacred 22 people and injured dozens in El Paso last weekend -- will make it easier to have guns in a state with some of the most lax weapons restrictions in the nation.

Here are the key firearm laws going into effect on September 1:

Weapons on school grounds

House Bill 1143 says a school district cannot prohibit licensed gun owners, including school employees, from storing a firearm or ammunition in a locked vehicle on a school parking lot -- provided they are not in plain view.

Kris Brown, president of gun violence prevention advocacy group Brady, criticized the bill going into effect September 1.

"Many states took the opportunity in the last two years to learn lessons from the tragedies in Las Vegas, Sutherland Springs, Parkland, and the every day gun violence that plagues our citizens, and enacted new laws to protect public safety through expanded background checks and extreme risk laws, which allow families and law enforcement to remove guns temporarily from individuals at risk of harming themselves or others," Brown said.

"Texas lawmakers, instead of reacting to the horrific shooting in Santa Fe by focusing on keeping guns out of dangerous hands, or even emphasizing safe storage of guns, instead doubled down on an NRA led agenda to encourage guns everywhere, no matter the risks and costs to safety."

Marshals at schools

House Bill 1387 loosens restrictions on how many armed school marshals a school district can appoint.

Guns in foster homes

House Bill 2363 allows some foster homes to store firearms and ammunition in a safe and secure place for personal protection. Proper storage must be followed, the bill says, including putting firearms and ammunition together in the same locked locations. It also goes into effect on September 1.

Weapons in apartments

House Bill 302 bans homeowners or landlords of rental property from prohibiting residents from lawfully possessing, carrying, transporting or storing a firearm or ammunition in the property.

Handguns during a disaster

House Bill 1177 prohibits residents from being charged with a crime for carrying a handgun while evacuating from a state or local disaster area.

Firearms in places of worship

Senate Bill 535 clarifies the possession of firearms at churches, synagogues or other places of worship. It allows licensed handgun owners to legally carry their weapons in places of worship -- and comes nearly two years after a gunman killed 26 people at Sutherland Springs church.

"We have learned many times over that there is no such thing as a gun free zone. Those with evil intentions will violate the law and carry out their heinous acts no matter what," state Sen. Donna Campbell, co-sponsor of the bill, said in a statement. "It makes no sense to disarm the good guys and leave law-abiding citizens defenseless where violent offenders break the law to do great harm."

The bill will make things clearer, she said.

"The existing statute is confusing and clunky when it comes to clearly stating the rights of licensed Texans to carry on the premises of a church. This bill provides clarity of the Legislature's intent to treat churches in the same manner as other privately owned establishments in Texas."