Austin gun safety advocates hoping to pass stricter gun laws in 2017

Advocates for gun safety are asking state legislators to consider laws they said would protect people from accidents involving firearms and gun violence.

Texas Gun Sense members say Texans deserve more protection and they hope lawmakers will consider stricter gun laws in the upcoming legislative session.
Members of Texas Gun Sense hopes creating new gun laws could help reduce gun injuries and deaths. They have already met with some lawmakers to encourage them to file and support gun legislation, but there are also many lawmakers who disagree with their strategy.

“Doing all we can to stop tragedies due to gun violence and valuing life is something we believe all Texans should be able to get on board with. It does not have to be a republican or democrat issue,” said Andrea Bauer with Texas Gun Sense. 

How to stop tragedies involving firearms is something Texas lawmakers and gun control advocates have been debating for years.

“This is Texas and we love our guns here in Texas and we're not going to allow someone outside the state to influence our gun laws,” said Michael Cargill, owner of Central Texas Gun Works. 

Those with Texas Gun Sense support State Rep. Donna Howard's bill making Campus Carry optional. That way public universities would be able to decide whether to allow students with concealed carry permits to bring a gun on campus.

“We do not seek to control, we seek to protect and save lives,” Brauer said.

Cargill said before the last legislature passed Campus Carry, public universities were allowed to make that call.

“So they've always had that authority to give people written permission to carry. So they had this option to opt in or opt out of it a long time ago. Now, we're saying, ‘Hey, since you're not going to allow anyone to carry at all, then we're going to have campus carry,’” said Cargill. 

Texas Gun Sense would like to strengthen background checks for those purchasing a gun. Owner of gun store Nocked and Loaded, Johnny Wade, said he has seen people whom he doesn't believe should own a gun get approved by the federal government to do so. 

“They have passed background checks and I prevent them from getting a gun, so, in that sense, I think more stringent requirements to pass that background check are required,” Wade said. 

“There's a system already in place. What we need is for the federal government to do their part on their side,” said Cargill. 

Texas Gun Sense advocates believes by creating new laws regarding the storage of firearms, lawmakers could prevent some gun related deaths.

“We know that one of the leading causes of death among children is due to firearms, either accidental death due to firearms or suicide, and oftentimes that has to do with storage,” said State Rep. Donna Howard, (D) Austin. 

Cargill says there are already strict laws surrounding gun storage in Texas and like the state motto says, he doesn't think anyone should mess with them.

“The thing that we need to focus our attention on here in Austin is traffic on I-35. We have more people dying on I-35 than anything. There's nothing wrong with our gun laws. Our gun laws are great here in the State of Texas and they work fine,” said Cargill.

Meanwhile, State Rep. Johnathan Stickland, (R) Bedford, has pre-filed a constitutional carry law. That would allow anyone who is legally allowed to possess a firearm to do so without having to obtain a permit.

Advocates with Texas Gun Sense said they plan to fight that law when and if it comes up in the legislature.

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