A new law will make Texas the 21st state that allows people to carry firearms without a permit. The law takes effect on September 1. There is a reasonable fear that this new law will escalate the rate of gun violence among Texans. The state is currently experiencing volatile times: the Big Lie extremism versus Save Our Democracy moderation; Red versus Blue; Vaccinated versus Unvaccinated; Masked versus Unmasked; and Insanity versus Sanity.
These contentious issues are more often than not expressed, even debated in angry, menacing terms. Threats and violence have become an almost automatic response among Texans in settling their disputes.
For example, in the early morning hours of August 15, 2021, a sports bar dispute in San Antonio left three people dead and two gravely injured outside in the bar’s parking lot. It is not known if the arrested suspect had a permit for the semi-automatic weapon used in the fatal shooting rampage.
Violence has become a seemingly acceptable dispute resolution tool throughout the nation, which has the most devastating personal and social effects, is now commonplace.
One Nation Under Fire: 404 Killed in One Week
This dark reality was evidenced during the week of Saturday, July 17, through Friday, July 23, when ABC News tracked the “gun violence ripping across America.” The news network found 1,018 shootings across the country that week that left 404 people dead and 928 wounded.
Worse yet, the Gun Violence Archive, upon which ABC News relied, reported that as of August 19, nearly 800 teenagers and 199 children had died from gun violence in America thus far in 2021. To date, over 29,000 people have been killed by firearms in 2021.
Law enforcement in Texas is rightly concerned that these kinds of numbers will increase after the state’s new no-permit law, which allows anyone 21 years or older without any training to open carry a handgun, takes effect. “Because there’s been zero training and zero background check, that’s a recipe for disaster,” said McKinney City council member Frederick Frazier has also been a long-time lobbyist for law enforcement issues.
The permitless gun carry law came when the Houston Police Department reported on the 172nd day of 2021 that Houston had 66 more homicides this year than it had last year at the same time—222 homicides 2021; 156 in 2020.
The Supreme Court has ruled that the U.S. Constitution guarantees every citizen of this nation the right to own and possess firearms. Gun ownership, however, is a constitutional freedom with limits. Individual states determine how that freedom can be exercised: ownership with a permit, ownership without permit, concealed carry, open carry; and/or specialized training, no training.
Our society today is gripped with exactly what constitutes individual freedom. Too many people assume that freedom is an unlimited concept—the right to act, say or respond in any way they feel is appropriate. The law, however, does not protect unlimited freedom. For example, an individual has the freedom to go to a movie theatre, but that freedom does not give the individual the right to stand up during the movie and shout “fire.”
Unbridled freedom is the most toxic danger to a civilized, organized society.
Unbridled freedom replaces social order with social chaos; the rule of law with mob rule; government regulation with anarchy; public safety with terrorism. The rule of law must restrain unlimited freedom, and the rule of law must exist to protect society from those who violate the law.
Against this backdrop, anyone in Texas 21 years or older has the freedom to walk into a licensed gun store on September 1, purchase any legal handgun, put it in a holster, fastened to their hip, and walk out into the public arena. We’re the wild, west West, again.
Existing State and Federal Gun Laws Apply
However, existing state and federal laws still limit the freedom to buy firearms. Gun purchasers must still undergo a background check or present a valid License to Carry permit before purchasing the handgun. “Gun toters” must also abide by federal law, which prohibits ex-felons, violent domestic abusers, and the mentally incapacitated from owning or possessing a firearm.
University of Law Professor Bill Piatt told San Antonio’s KENS-5 television station that guns are also still barred from public places like schools and hospitals and banned from private businesses that elect to invoke such a ban.
These restrictions notwithstanding, Texas remains one of the easiest states to purchase a weapon without a background check, whether by individual sales or at gun shows prevalent in the state.
States with Highest Gun Ownership Have Highest Gun Death Rate
The bottom line is this: the five states which the lowest gun ownership—Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Hawaii, and Rhode Island—have the lowest gun violence death rates, while the five states with the highest gun ownership rate—Alaska, Wyoming. Mississippi, New Mexico, and Alabama—have the highest gun violence deaths.
Gun violence is also a critical issue in Texas.
According to Texas Fast Stats, Gun violence costs Texans $16.6 billion a year, and the state leads the nation in the number of guns lost or stolen from licensed gun dealers.
There are roughly 1.5 million Texas with a License to Carry permit. As of September 1, there will be no need to have a license to carry a handgun in public in Texas.
Will this new law increase gun violence in Texas?
This constitutional experiment remains incomplete.