Expanded gun laws go into effect Sept. 1

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– The gun bills that moved through the Texas legislature earlier this year were mostly in response to the mass shootings in Sutherland Springs and at Santa Fe High School. 

During the session, lawmakers debated whether or not a “good guy with a gun” can prevent an attack and that discussion continued Wednesday with those who spoke with FOX7. 

“I do not buy that idea, I don’t think it does stop the crime, that much,” Cedar Park resident Arun Mago said. “But it does give you protection, I mean if you own a gun and somebody comes and attack at you, you have the right to protect your family.”

Esmeralda Davis also had mixed emotions about opening up areas for licensed gun owners, but admitted there are immediate benefits.

“If they are in my neighborhood, and I know they are a good guy, so to speak, so yes it does bring me comfort that there would be somebody to protect me and my family,” said Davis.

The new gun laws, almost a dozen, hit the books September 1st. They include allowing guns in houses of worship (SB 535), on rental property (HB 302), in school parking lots (HB 1143), and even in foster homes (HB 2363).  

SB 741 prevents homeowners associations from regulating gun ownership.

A long-running battle between gun advocate Michael Cargill and the city of Austin is addressed in HB 1791. It prevents ordinances that keep gun owners from entering government buildings.

Hurricane Harvey prompted HB 1177, which allows open and concealed carry during times of natural disasters. 

Licensed gun owners are also protected from trespassing charges by HB 121 if they immediately leave areas where guns are prohibited. 

With HB 1387, the cap on the number of school marshals was lifted.

The new self-protection laws that are coming are not limited to guns. On Sept. 1st, it will be legal in Texas to carry brass knuckles, clubs and pointed keychains. 

The mass shooting in El Paso has changed the agenda for state lawmakers and in a way, shifted the pendulum back toward the middle regarding regulation. Gov. Greg Abbott, with his newly formed safety commission, is looking for ways to prevent gun violence.

“It was a very productive discussion, we plowed a lot of ground, and we got off to what we consider to be a good start,” Abbott said last Thursday.

During a gathering last week, ideas were pitched including better ways to identify and report threats. A lot of time was also spent talking about courts and a recent incident at Pease Park where a heavily armed man caught there had earlier purchased an AR-15 despite having an active arrest warrant and a pending protection order.

“There are flaws in the ways the system is constructed,” Abbott said.

Even private sales which do not require background checks were discussed. It’s a topic under the Capitol dome that’s usually a non-starter, but on Thursday Abbott made it clear the issue is now on the table.  

“One stranger can sell a gun to another stranger, right now there is nothing in law that would prevent one stranger form selling a gun to a terrorist,” Abbott said. “And obviously that’s a danger that needs to be looked in to.”

The safety commission meets again Thursday in El Paso. What to do about assault sifles is expected to be one of the hot topics on the agenda.