When Texas was the national leader in gun controlRoundup
tags: gun control, NRA, Texas history
Brennan Gardner Rivas is currently a Lecturer in history at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas.
Two mass shootings last month have claimed 29 lives in Texas, drawing scrutiny and criticism of the state’s lax firearm regulations.
Among these policies: Gun owners can knowingly sell or transfer weapons to felons, making it one of the easiest states in which to carry out straw purchases. Texans are also not required to report lost or missing firearms to law enforcement, nor are large-capacity magazines restricted.
These mass shootings, which are far from the state’s first in recent memory, demonstrate that Texas needs a comprehensive approach to gun control. Instead of adopting stricter regulations, however, the state has continuously loosened its weapon laws despite mass shootings.
But that has not always been the case. Although Texans tout their state’s historical image as the land of Wild West shootouts and quick-draw cowboys and jealously guard their present-day reputation as a banner gun-rights state, Texas has historically had strict gun laws — some of the strictest in the nation. The story of their enactment in the turbulent post-Civil War era can provide valuable guidance as we confront our own gun violence crisis today.
Texas joined the United States as a state with lax gun laws. Before the Civil War, the state’s only gun-control laws were those that prohibited slaves from carrying weapons without their masters’ permission.
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