Will Texas Lawmakers Pass Gun Legislation This Session? | KERA News

Will Texas Lawmakers Pass Gun Legislation This Session?

Jan 31, 2019

With all the talk about property tax and school finance reform in the Texas Legislature so far, one has to wonder — what about guns?

In the aftermath of the deadly shootings at a Sutherland Springs church and at Sante Fe High School outside Houston, so far lawmakers have filed more than 50 gun-related bills. 

The legislation tackles everything from "constitutional" carry to 3D-printed guns

Bob Stein is a political science professor at Rice University in Houston. He says it's likely most of the legislation won't "get action," but primarily be used as campaign fodder for November 2020. 

However, Senate Bill 61, filed by Democratic state Senator Judith Zaffirini out of Laredo, could have bi-partisan interest. The legislation would exempt sales tax on "firearm safety supplies" such as trigger locks and gun safes. 

Michael Cargill is a U.S. Army veteran and owns Central Texas Gun Works in Austin. He said the legislation would be helpful, but notes that guns usually come with a lock of their own. 

However, gun safes help in the car. 

"What we recommend people do, is to actually lock it in the safe in your vehicle, if you're going to leave your gun in your vehicle for one reason or the other," Cargill said. 

But just how effective are sales tax exemptions on gun safety items?

Connecticut has had a similar law since 1999. Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey and Washington state (gun safes only) have it too. 

Rosanna Smart, an economist with the RAND Corporation, said there does not seem to be much empirical evidence that taxes — or lack thereof — have an effect on gun safety/violence. 

Nonetheless, lawmakers like Fort Worth Rep. Matt Krause expect robust discussions on all gun topics, including school safety. 

"So what does that look like? Does that just mean hardening the schools?" Krause said. 

Krause has authored two gun bills of his own aimed at protecting Texans from federal gun laws. 

The deadline to file bills in Texas' 86th Legislature is March 8 .