Texas House approves bill allowing handgun owners to carry weapons in places of worship

Texas House approves bill allowing handgun owners to carry weapons in places of worship
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The Texas House on Monday reportedly gave preliminary approval for a bill that would allow licensed handgun owners to carry weapons inside places of worship.

The legislation would roll back current Texas law that states handguns are not allowed in “churches, synagogues, or other places of worship," The Texas Tribune reported.

The measure has already been passed by the Texas Senate and will need final approval in the state House before it is sent to the desk of Gov. Greg Abbott (R), it added.

“The existing statute is confusing and clunky and has kept law-abiding Texans from exercising their Second [Amendment] rights where those with evil intentions have tragically targeted innocent lives,” state Sen. Donna Campbell (R), who introduced the bill in the state Senate, told the Tribune in a statement. “This bill provides clarity of the Legislature's intent to treat churches and houses of worship in the same manner as other privately owned establishments in Texas.”

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The bill comes nearly two years after a gunman killed 26 people and injured 20 others during a shooting at First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, Texas.

The shooter, who should not have been allowed to buy a gun because of previous assault convictions, ultimately died from injuries that included a self-inflicted head wound.

Stephen Willeford, a former National Rifle Association instructor who lived near the church, exchanged gunfire with a shooter during the shooting in November, 2017. Willeford then teamed up with another man to chase the gunman by car and call 911 to provide his location.

Conservatives, including President TrumpDonald John TrumpTed Cruz knocks New York Times for 'stunning' correction on Kavanaugh report US service member killed in Afghanistan Pro-Trump website edited British reality star's picture to show him wearing Trump hat MORE, argued after the massacre that stricter gun laws would have led to more casualties at the church.

“And I can only say this: If he didn’t have a gun, instead of having 26 dead, you would have had hundreds more dead. So that's the way I feel about it. Not going to help,” Trump said of the armed civilians.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) released an opinion shortly after the shooting aimed at allowing licensed gun owners at carrying weapons in places of worship, the Tribune noted.

Paxton wrote that “unless a church provides effective oral or written notice prohibiting the carrying of handguns on its property, a license holder may carry a handgun onto the premises of church property as the law allows.”

The legislation also comes after one person was killed during a shooting at a San Diego-area synagogue in April and 11 people were killed during a shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue last year.