guns
April 16, 2021

You may soon need a license to drive and vote in Texas but not carry a handgun in public.

After years of failed attempts by gun advocates, the Texas House on Thursday gave initial approval to a bill that would drop the state's requirement that most handgun owners obtain a $40 license to carry their firearm in public, concealed or openly. Currently, Texans 21 and over with no criminal record can get a license to carry a handgun if they complete a training requirement, don't have a drug addiction, and can "exercise sound judgment with respect the proper use and storage of a handgun," the Austin American-Statesman explains.

The measure would drop the license requirement, though federal background checks would remain in place for most handgun purchases, with exceptions for private and gun show sales. It passed 84-56, mainly along party lines; five Democrats voted in favor, one Republican voted against. The legislation needs another vote in the House, and it faces an uncertain future in the state Senate.

The El Paso delegation led the unsuccessful opposition to the bill, HR 1927. After a gunman murdered 23 people at a Walmart in 2019, followed weeks later by the mass shooting of seven people in Midland Odessa, "there were roundtable discussions and stakeholder meetings and a lot of promises — and I was hopeful, members, even knowing the political realities, I was hopeful," said state Rep. Joe Moody (D). "I'm so tired of doing nothing," he added. "I'm so tired of catering to a very small number of very loud people whose thinking about guns is wrapped up in unfounded fears and bizarre conspiracy theories."

Permitless carry has the support of the Texas Republican Party and the National Rifle Association. It is opposed by law enforcement groups, firearms trainers, and groups of clergy and veterans. At a break in the five-hour debate, a group of gun control advocates prayed and sang "Amazing Grace" in the gallery, before being escorted out by law enforcement. Peter Weber

April 7, 2021

President Biden is set to announce on Thursday several executive actions to address gun violence, including requiring buyers of "ghost guns" to undergo background checks, several people familiar with the matter told Politico.

Ghost guns are homemade or makeshift weapons that do not have serial numbers. Politico reports that it's unclear what additional executive actions might be taken, but gun control advocates who have spoken with White House officials have theorized Biden could announce a ban on firearm purchases for people convicted of domestic violence against their partners and regulations on concealed assault-style firearms. The White House has said it's up to lawmakers to come up with legislation to expand background checks and close loopholes.

Biden is also expected to reveal that he will nominate David Chipman as director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, a person familiar with the matter told Politico. Chipman is a former ATF agent who serves as a senior policy advisor at Giffords, a gun control organization founded by former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) after she was shot in 2011.

In 2020, at least 19,223 Americans died due to gun violence, up nearly 25 percent from 2019. A senior Biden administration official told Politico the White House has been "working hard from day one to pursue actions to reduce gun violence. We understand the urgency. No one understands the urgency more than the president and we are looking forward to rolling out some of the initial actions we can take." Catherine Garcia

August 27, 2019

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints used to say it was "inappropriate" for people to bring firearms into its buildings, but now, they are strictly forbidden.

"Churches are dedicated for the worship of God and as havens from the cares and concerns of the world," the new policy states. "With the exception of current law enforcement officers, the carrying of lethal weapons on church property, concealed or otherwise, is prohibited."

The worldwide rule went into effect earlier this month, The Salt Lake Tribune reports. The policy can be found inside the church's updated handbook, but leaders in Texas are being asked to read it on Sunday, due to a new law that goes into effect in the state on Sept. 1. Under that law, it will be legal to carry concealed weapons into places of worship in Texas, but churches can still prohibit them as long as they give a verbal notice or post signs on their buildings. Catherine Garcia

January 29, 2019

The South Dakota House of Representatives passed a bill 47-23 on Tuesday that lets residents carry concealed handguns without a permit.

The measure now heads to Gov. Kristi Noem (R), who said she supports the idea of permit-less concealed carry, but wants to know the bill's exact language. The NRA backs the measure, but law enforcement officials do not, Rep. Doug Barthel (R-Sioux Falls) said Tuesday, which is one reason why he voted against the bill — the other being because his constituents do not support it. "Are you representing the people from your district?" he said. "Is that truly the way they feel or is this just how you feel? We're sent here to represent the people from our district and vote the way we think they would like us to vote."

A poll released Tuesday by Everytown for Gun Safety, conducted by Survey USA, found that 84 percent of South Dakotans support the state's concealed carry permit requirement, The Argus Leader reports. That crosses party lines — 81 percent of people who voted for President Trump in 2016 approve of the requirement, as do 92 percent of people who voted for Hillary Clinton. Catherine Garcia

June 8, 2018

It can be a pain to click "forgot your password?" and go through the trouble of resetting your login info — but sometimes, it's really, really important.

After Florida officials had trouble logging into the FBI crime database to determine whether or not to approve concealed weapons permit applications, tens of thousands of applicants were approved to carry firearms without ever receiving a required background check, Tampa Bay Times reported Friday.

Employees in the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services stopped using the database for more than a year, an investigation found. During that year, Florida received a record number of concealed carry permit applications — 245,000, compared to 134,000 applications the year before.

Investigators are unsure of how many applicants received a permit when they should have been denied, but the conspicuous lack of denials and appeals during that year is reportedly what finally tipped officials off that something was going wrong in the applications process.

Adam Putnam, Florida's Agriculture commissioner who headed the department, has bragged about the increased number of concealed carry permits, reports the Times. While he ran the office, he also boasted about the donations he's received from the NRA for his support of expanded accessibility to guns.

The employee in charge of accessing the database, Lisa Wilde, acknowledged she "dropped the ball," but said she didn't know why she alone was tasked with the background check process when the office was so inundated with applications. Read more at Tampa Bay Times. Summer Meza

February 28, 2018

Walmart announced Wednesday that in light of the recent mass shooting at a Florida high school that left 17 people dead, it is raising the minimum age for purchase of firearms and ammunition to 21.

In a statement, the company said the change would be implemented "as quickly as possible," and also promised to remove items from the Walmart website that look like assault-style rifles, including toys and nonlethal airsoft guns. In 2015, Walmart stopped selling rifles like the AR-15, which was used in the Florida shooting. "Our heritage as a company has always been in serving sportsmen and hunters, and we will continue to do so in a responsible way," the company said.

Earlier Wednesday, Dick's Sporting Goods said it will also stop selling guns to customers under 21, and will no longer carry high-capacity magazines. Catherine Garcia

December 6, 2017

The House voted on Wednesday, 231-198, to loosen federal regulations so gun owners with concealed-carry permits could legally travel with their weapons to other states.

The National Rifle Association pushed hard for the bill, which passed with six Democrats supporting it and 14 Republicans opposed. The bill's author, Rep. Richard Hudson (R-N.C.), compared concealed-carry permits to marriage and drivers' licenses, while Rep. Elizabeth Esty (D-Conn.) — who represents Newtown, where 26 children and teachers were gunned down inside Sandy Hook Elementary School — called his bill "an outrage and an insult to the families" of people killed by gun violence.

The bill was combined with two measures that have bipartisan support — one that would have the Bureau of Justice Statistics, over six months, study crimes involving firearms to see how many involve bump stocks, which allow semi-automatic weapons to fire at nearly the same rate as an automatic weapon; and another that would strengthen the National Criminal Instant Background Check system. The vote was the first time since the massacre at Sandy Hook that the House took up any major gun legislation. Catherine Garcia

May 2, 2016

Children ages 1-3 have shot somebody with a gun they found more than once a week in the U.S. this year, and in most cases, they were the victim, too. According to a Washington Post count, toddlers were involved in at least 23 shootings between Jan. 1 and April 29. In 18 of those cases, the children shot themselves, and nine of those toddlers died. In the other five cases, the toddler shot another person, and two died — on April 27, a 2-year-old boy fatally shot his mother in the car after a gun slid out from under the front seat, and in February, a 3-year-old boy shot and killed his 9-year-old brother in Alabama.

The rate of toddler-involved shootings is not uniform across states, with Georgia notching eight such shootings since the beginning of 2015, Texas and Missouri tied for second place with seven shootings, while Michigan and Florida each have six. There are probably some legal and cultural reasons for the variations in toddler shootings, but it's "still largely a guessing game," says The Post's Christopher Ingraham. "And it's a game made much more difficult by Congress' efforts to restrict the type of gun research that agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are allowed to conduct." You can read more at The Washington Post. Peter Weber

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