Texas' state House has voted 84-56 in favour of a bill, dubbed "Constitutional Carry", that would eliminate the requirement to pass background checks and receive firearms training in order to own and carry (including conceal carry) a gun in the state. It will thus ease access to firearms for all state citizens over 21-years-old if it passes the Republican-dominated state Senate.
Seven Democrats were among the 84 lawmakers who voted in favour of the bill, while the rest of the blue party opposed the initiative. At the same time, one GOP member, Morgan Meyer, also voted against the proposed law.
The voting took place following several hours of heated debate during which the opponents of the bill tried to persuade fellow Texas House members to reconsider their position.
Although the bill still faces a vote in the state Senate, it has already drawn ire from proponents of stricter gun laws. Former Texas House member, Democrat Beto O'Rourke, called on lawmakers to pass "common-sense gun laws" in the state. At the same time, Texas would not be the first state in the US to pass such a law – 13 other states have adopted similarly lax gun legislation so far.
The bill's progress in Texas' legislature comes in the wake of a spate of mass shootings in the US. Just this week, a person armed with two legally acquired assault rifles killed eight people at a FedEx facility in Indianapolis. Earlier this month, Texas itself became a victim of a mass shooting, when a man killed one and injured five at a cabinet company in the city of Bryan.
Following several episodes of deadly mass shootings this year, US President Joe Biden came up with an initiative to resurrect a federal assault weapons ban, which functioned between 1994 and 2004 and had a limited impact on the number and lethality of mass shootings in the US. In 1999, when the law was still in place, two students of Columbine High School in Columbine, Colorado killed 13 people and injured 24 more using a pistol, a carbine and two shotguns, which they bought illegally while being underage.