Following the shooting in Santa Fe, it appears that Texas Governor Greg Abbott may have caved to demands for more gun control.
The governor’s office unveiled a new plan to address school safety in a press release last week. However, the ambiguously-named “School and Firearm Safety Action Plan” contained more than just proposals to beef up security on school grounds.
Buried toward the bottom of Abbott’s plan are recommendations to:
- Consider the implementation of Gun Violence Restraining Orders (GVRO)
- Make reporting of NICS denials to law enforcement compulsory
- Significantly tighten Texas' current gun storage laws
- Mandate reporting of lost or stolen guns within a 10-day period
- And use grant funds from the Federal Stop School Violence Act to fund various activities
According to Abbott’s proposed plan, “mental Health Protective Order procedures would allow law enforcement, a family member, school employee, or a district attorney to file a petition seeking the removal of firearms from a person proven to be dangerous to himself or to others.”
The plan is careful to stress that due process would be maintained, and both notice and a hearing would be provided. However, it’s worth noting that in all of the states that currently employ GVROs, none actually protect due process. What’s more, such a protective order could be easily abused or used as a justification for the state to illegally confiscate firearms from law-abiding citizens.
Statewide implementation of Fix NICS
This proposal would entail closing gaps in information reporting for background checks by creating a case management system for Texas judges. This would essentially be an expansion of the federal S. 2492 (Fix NICS). Firearms Policy Coalition opposed this, as it would create a law enforcement nightmare, and likely lead to millions of civil rights violations.
Gun storage laws
In regards to firearms storage, Abbott’s plan recommends several changes, including:
- Requiring firearms to be locked up if anyone under 18 is in the home.
- Changing the “readily dischargeable” statutory requirement for prosecution.
These changes, if adopted, would mean Texans could be held criminally liable if they do not keep their firearms locked away when minors are present.
Further, storing an unloaded firearm would not be an acceptable defense if a child were hurt, and the criminal penalty for failing to follow these laws would be increased substantially.
Ultimately, this could mean substantial jail time for Texans even in circumstances where gun owners took reasonable precautions against children getting ahold of their guns.
Those who fail to report their firearm as missing or stolen within a 10-day period would be subject to a $500 fine under Abbott’s plan. This proposed measure would create a variety of circumstances in which law-abiding gun owners could be punished by the Texas state government for failing to report losses or thefts they may not even be aware of.
For example, many people commonly go away on vacation for two weeks at a time. So you could be fined during that period for failing to report a lost or stolen gun until you return.
School Violence Prevention Act funding
An appendix in Abbott’s proposed plan makes it clear that Texas could seek out grant money from the Stop School Violence Act to fund various activities.
FPC also opposed this measure, known as HR 4909, on the grounds that it would consume millions of taxpayer dollars for nonsensical, dangerous, and unaccountable grant programs. Moreover, the act would create serious new public safety problems.
Anyone wishing to read the governor’s plan may access it online here.