A member of First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs says on a normal Sunday, there are 40 parishioners. A gunman killed at least 20 of them. USA TODAY
As the nation looks with horror at Sunday’s church shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas, some called for a change to gun laws that are among most lax in the nation.
Texas lawmakers approved a law this year that reduced the application fees from $140 to $40 for handgun licenses, effective Sept. 1.
Texas law also allows handgun license applicants to take handgun safety classes online, rather than in a classroom, in addition to at least one hour of shooting range instruction before taking a shooting test.
Those laws came after the legislature passed open carry and campus carry laws in 2015 that gave the state the laxest gun laws in the country, according to The Dallas Morning News. Texans still need to pass a federal background check when buying a firearm.
The campus carry law allows licensed students to carry a concealed weapon on campus.
The open carry law allows licensed gun owners to carry their weapons in most public spaces.
State law does not allow concealed guns in bars. But a business that earns less than half its revenue from alcohol does not qualify as a bar, and customers there are allowed to carry firearms. An armed man who shot and killed a bar manager in Arlington, Texas, May 4 was killed by a customer. That customer was not charged, according to WFAA-TV.
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A 2013 study published by the American Journal of Public Health found that “states with higher rates of gun ownership had disproportionately large numbers of deaths from firearm-related homicides.”
Several Democratic lawmakers called for stricter gun laws and blamed the loose laws in Texas on lawmakers who seek support from the gun lobby.
“As my colleagues go to sleep tonight, they need to think about whether the political support of the gun industry is worth the blood that flows endlessly on the floors of American churches, elementary schools, movie theaters, and city streets,” said Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut.
The Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting occurred in Newtown, Conn., Dec. 14, 2012, when Adam Lanza shot 20 children between 6 and 7 years old in addition to six staff members.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal, also from Connecticut, tweeted his frustration: “Enough is enough. Now is the time for commonsense gun violence prevention steps. Congressional complicity must end.”
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