Giffords, the gun violence prevention organization led by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, criticized Governor Abbott’s newly announced executive orders for failing to address the dangerous loopholes in state gun laws that endanger Texans. These executive orders focus on identifying threats but do nothing to prevent dangerous individuals from obtaining weapons. Instead, Giffords called on Governor Abbott to provide real solutions to protect Texans from gun violence.
Peter Ambler, Giffords Executive Director:
“Governor Abbott’s executive orders miss the point and skirt the real issues. Texas law allows dangerous people to easily access guns without background checks or oversight from law enforcement. Currently, there are over 3,700 guns for sale on just one website where background checks aren’t required, which is how criminals get guns. If Governor Abbott is serious about protecting Texas families, he should use his executive authority to call for a special session of the legislature to pass universal background checks and an extreme risk protection order law, and address the easy availability of assault weapons. It’s already too late for too many. Let’s not jeopardize Texans’ safety any longer.”
Recently, Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence released a report, Gun Laws and Violence in Texas, detailing why Texas has become a place where someone is killed by a gun every three hours and providing a detailed blueprint on laws the state could pass to save lives. Without action, this crisis is only expected to get worse. As the report notes, data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that the state’s gun murder death rate has increased every year since 2014.
Last month, Giffords also launched Texas Gun Owners for Safety. At a roundtable, a coalition of Texas hunters, sports shooters, and collectors announced they are coming together to advocate for commonsense gun violence prevention laws and promote safe and responsible gun ownership.
The state’s dangerous gaps in gun laws resulted in a ‘F’ score in the most recent Giffords Law Center Annual Gun Law Scorecard. That ranking makes them worse than 33 other states—two-thirds of the nation.
The state’s ranking is so low because, among other reasons, background checks are not required to buy a firearm, domestic abusers can buy and keep guns even after being convicted of serious crimes, and dangerous military-style weapons are easily accessible.
Building a Safer Future
If Governor Abbott is serious about addressing gun violence, here are eight evidence-based policies he should support:
- PASS UNIVERSAL BACKGROUND CHECKS: Texas should pass a law requiring a background check on every gun sale, unless an individual is receiving the gun as a gift from a close family member. Across the United States, an estimated 22% of gun owners acquired their most recent firearm without a background check—which translates to millions of Americans acquiring millions of guns, no questions asked, each year.
- ENACT EXTREME RISK PROTECTION ORDERS: Texas should pass an extreme risk law empowering family members, household members, and law enforcement officers to petition a court for an extreme risk order when they observe clear warning signs that an individual poses a risk to themselves or others. If, based on credible sworn evidence, the judge concludes that a person poses an extreme risk of violence, this law would direct the judge to issue a civil (non-criminal) court order temporarily suspending the respondent’s access to guns.
- DISARM VIOLENT DOMESTIC ABUSERS, HATE CRIME OFFENDERS, AND OTHERS CONVICTED OF VIOLENT CRIMES: Texas should pass a law to prohibit people convicted of domestic abuse, hate crimes, and other criminal acts involving violence or the use or threatened use of firearms from purchasing guns.
- STRENGTHEN PROTECTIONS AGAINST MILITARY-STYLE WEAPONS: Texas should pass laws placing reasonable limitations on the sale, manufacture, transfer, and possession of military-style weapons.
- LIMIT YOUNG PEOPLE’S UNSUPERVISED ACCESS TO FIREARMS: Most school shooters are current or former students at the school they target, and most use firearms they obtained from a family member or neighbor or purchased themselves.
- GIVE LAW ENFORCEMENT TOOLS TO CURB THE FLOW OF ILLEGAL GUNS ON THE BLACK MARKET: Texas should comprehensively strengthen its anti-trafficking laws.
- INVEST IN LIFESAVING VIOLENCE INTERVENTION PROGRAMS TO BREAK THE CYCLE OF VIOLENCE: To interrupt entrenched cycles of shootings, injury, trauma, and retaliation, Texas should pass legislation to create and fund a competitive state grant program for effective violence intervention initiatives.
- ALLOW LOCAL GOVERNMENTS TO ENACT GUN LAWS FITTING THE NEEDS OF THEIR COMMUNITIES: Texas should pass legislation empowering local city and county leaders to enact gun safety measures tailored to the needs of their individual communities.