Updated August 31 10:04 AM CT
When a new round of laws goes into effect on Sept. 1, Texas will officially become a "Second Amendment sanctuary." That's one piece of a GOP-led effort to limit firearm restrictions and expand gun access in the state.
While permitless carry was the highest profile gun bill to cross Gov. Greg Abbott's desk during the 2021 legislative session, more than a dozen others received his signature.
Most loosen or limit firearm restrictions, like new laws allowing school marshals and hotel guests to carry guns. One law bans government contracts with companies that "discriminate against the firearm or ammunition industries," while another effectively designates gun stores as essential businesses that can’t be shut down during a disaster.
But three new laws will also take effect that were written in response to back-to-back mass shootings in El Paso and Odessa in 2019. That includes one gun control measure, which makes it a state crime to lie on a background check in order to illegally purchase a gun.
Here is a rundown of the new laws:
- House Bill 1927: Known as permitless or constitutional carry, it allows Texans to carry handguns in public without a license and the background check and training that a license requires.
- House Bill 2622: Known as the "Second Amendment Sanctuary State Act," it prohibits state agencies and local governments from enforcing new federal gun rules.
- House Bill 1500: Prevents government entities from banning the sale or transportation of firearms or ammunition during a declared disaster or emergency.
- House Bill 957: Exempts firearm suppressors that are made and remain in Texas from federal laws and regulations.
- House Bill 1407: Allows license holders to carry visible, holstered handguns anywhere in a motor vehicle, rather than having to wear the handgun in a shoulder or belt holster.
- House Bill 1387: Allows certain foster homes to store guns and ammunition together in the same locked location, rather than requiring the items to be stored separately.
- House Bill 1069: Allows certain first responders to carry handguns.
- House Bill 2112: Removes the requirement that handguns must be carried in a "shoulder or belt" holster, expanding what kinds of holsters are legal.
- House Bill 103: Creates a statewide active shooter alert system.
- House Bill 4346: Prohibits certain firearm restrictions on a property during the use of an easement.
- House Bill 29: Allows state-owned public buildings to provide self-service weapon lockers.
- House Bill 1920: Expands and clarifies what constitutes a secured area of an airport in relation to possessing a firearm.
- House Bill 2675: Requires the Texas Department of Public Safety to expedite the handgun license process for individuals "who are at increased risk of becoming victims of violence."
- House Bill 918: Makes young adults between the ages of 18-20 eligible for a license to carry a handgun if they are protected under certain court orders related to family violence.
- House Bill 781: Allows junior college school marshals to carry concealed handguns rather than storing them.
- Senate Bill 741: Allows school marshals in public school districts, open-enrollment charters, and private schools to carry concealed handguns rather than storing them.
- Senate Bill 20: Allows hotel guests to carry and store firearms and ammunition in their rooms.
- Senate Bill 19: Prohibits government entities from contracting with businesses that "discriminate against the firearm or ammunition industries."
- Senate Bill 162: Known as the "lie and try" bill, makes it a state crime to lie on a background check in order to illegally purchase a firearm.
- Senate Bill 550: Removes the requirement that handguns must be carried in a "shoulder or belt" holster, expanding what kinds of holsters are legal.
- Senate Bill 313: Creates a sales and use tax exemption for firearm safety equipment.
- Senate Bill 168: Requires schools to use best practices when conducting active shooter drills, so they're less harmful to students' mental health and wellbeing; went into effect immediately.
Texas will join 19 other states with permitless or constitutional carry laws, and five other states that have declared themselves "Second Amendment sanctuaries."
Gov. Abbott has celebrated many of these measures.
"You could say that I signed into law today some laws that protect gun rights, but today, I signed documents that instill freedom in the Lone Star State," he said as he signed seven firearm-related bills into law, at a ceremony in San Antonio.
Many Democratic leaders and gun safety advocates hoped the 2021 session would result in more laws aimed at gun violence prevention. It was the first time lawmakers convened since the 2019 shootings in El Paso and Odessa.
In the aftermath of those attacks, some of the state's top Republican leaders — including Gov. Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick — signaled an openness to change and voiced concerns about private, "stranger-to-stranger" gun sales that don't require background checks.
However, legislation aimed at closing the background check loophole didn't make it out of session, and most bills filed in response to the mass shootings never landed on the governor's desk.
Mallory Falk is a corps member with Report For America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms. Got a tip? Email Mallory at Mfalk@kera.org. You can follow Mallory on Twitter @MalloryFalk.
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Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly attributed discussions on changing gun laws in the aftermath of the El Paso and Odessa shootings to the wrong Republican state leader. That openness to changing gun laws was being voiced by Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick.