According to Giffords Law Center analysis, someone is killed with a gun in Texas every three hours
Study explores how hate-fueled and everyday gun violence can be addressed by passing commonsense gun laws
Washington, DC — As Giffords and Latino Victory Project embark on a Texas tour focused around gun violence and its threat to the Latino community, Giffords Law Center unveiled a new report highlighting the devastation wrought by gun violence in the state. Gun Laws and Violence in Texas details why Texas has become a place where someone is killed by a gun every three hours and provides a detailed blueprint on what 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.
Earlier this week, 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.
“Texans have had enough of the daily heartache and worry the gun violence crisis brings to their doorsteps,” said Peter Ambler, Giffords Executive Director. “Too many lives are being destroyed or forever altered by a shooting because politicians in Austin do the gun lobby’s bidding. These findings make clear the tragic scale of the epidemic in Texas is not inevitable. We know that stronger laws can better protect our communities—now it’s up to elected officials to do their job and pass them. We’ll continue fighting with Texans across the state until we have leaders committed to the cause of gun safety.”
According to the new report, the problem begins with weak laws in Texas. The ease of getting a firearm has led to the deaths of 11,120 Texans in gun homicides from 2007 to 2017. That includes nearly 1,450 children and teenagers. Added to that, over twenty thousand more Texans lost their lives in suicides or accidents over that period. The violence adds up financially as well, costing the state an estimated $16.6 billion dollars in law enforcement, healthcare, and economic costs per year.
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.
Rise in Hate-fueled Violence
The report makes the connection between Texas’s reckless gun laws and the rise of hate-fueled violence. The mass shooting in El Paso, for example, was the deadliest targeted attack against Latinos in recent American history. From 2006–2015, Americans suffered more than 10,000 violent hate crime attacks every year involving the use or threatened use of firearms. Coinciding with that, from 2016 to 2017, there was a 16% increase in hate crimes against black Americans and a 24% increase in hate crimes against Hispanic and Latino Americans.
Building a Safer Future
To change the current situation, the study also laid out an eight-part plan to significantly cut gun violence in Texas:
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.
Giffords/Latino Victory Project Tour
Giffords and the Latino Victory Project launched ¡YA BASTA! Latinos Rise Against Gun Violence and Hate—a tour with stops in El Paso, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio—to raise awareness in the Latino community about the growing threats of gun violence and the white supremacist-based anti-Latino movement. The new partnership and tour come in response to the deadliest white-supremacy motivated terrorist attack against Latinos in recent American history.
Texas Gun Owners for Safety
This week at their launch, the Texas Gun Owners for Safety discussed their mission, priorities, and the policies they will support and call on lawmakers to pass at the state and federal levels. Giffords has helped launch similar groups this year in Minnesota and Colorado to help amplify the voices of the many gun owners who support commonsense laws such as background checks for every gun sale.
The mission of the new group is to support gun violence prevention laws while respecting the Second Amendment and promoting gun safety. The group has three goals: reduce gun violence in Texas, shift the culture, and promote responsible gun ownership. Both in Texas and nationally, the Texas Gun Owners for Safety will focus on popular policies like establishing universal background checks and safe storage laws.