Just hours after a mass shooting around Odessa, Texas, claimed five lives and left close to two dozen wounded, the state is set to loosen restrictions on guns through a series of new laws passed by state lawmakers.
On Saturday, police said a gunman went on a shooting spree around Odessa, killing five people and firing at random civilians from his vehicle and then from a mail truck that he hijacked, CNN reported. The gunman was shot and killed by police in a dramatic shootout that was caught on video by an onlooker.
Police did not release a motive for the shooting, and the deceased shooter remains unidentified.
The shooting came exactly two weeks after a gunman opened fire further west in the state at a Walmart shopping center in El Paso. After Saturday's mass shooting, a number of politicians responded by calling for stronger gun restrictions and national gun reform, a common refrain after mass shootings in recent months.
But the state of Texas has instead gone the other direction. As KSAT reported, the Texas Legislature had passed a number of laws set to go into effect on September 1 that loosen restrictions on guns, allowing firearms in more public places like schools and churches. The laws were passed with the support of the National Rifle Association, which said the passage of these laws was "highly successful," even as groups aimed at ending gun violence warned that they would make schools and communities less safe.
As KSAT noted --- in a report published before the mass shooting in Odessa --- the Texas Legislature has responded to mass shootings at a church in Sutherland Springs and a high school in Sante Fe by loosening restrictions on guns, even as other states have called for more restrictions in the wake of other mass shootings. That included laws allowing more teachers to carry guns in schools.The new set of laws introduced on Sunday include one that allows Texans to carry guns into places of worship, unless the church or synagogue wants to prohibit firearms and notifies congregants with signs. Another law eases restrictions on school marshals who carry guns, and bars school districts from restricting the way licensed gun holders can store guns and ammunition in vehicles in school parking lots. One law even allows Texans to carry handguns when evacuating or returning home from natural disasters.
The laws took effect as the calendar turned to September, less than 12 hours after the mass shooting in Odessa.