Texas Receives an F for Failing to Pass Legislation that Protects Texans from Gun Violence

gun law map
Image by Giffords Law Center

Texas received an F due to its dangerously weak gun laws

Washington DC — In 2021, a number of state legislatures took the threat of gun violence seriously and passed 75 new laws in 27 states and Washington DC. In the latest edition of the Annual Gun Law Scorecard, Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence graded and ranked each state on the strength of its gun laws, showing that states with stronger gun laws have lower gun death rates and save more lives.

Texas received an F due to its dangerously weak gun laws. In 2020, the last year for which data is available, 4,164 people died from firearm injuries in Texas, representing a 12% increase in the gun death rate in the state over the previous year. The increase in gun deaths was primarily driven by increases in gun homicides, which comprised 42% of all gun deaths in the state in 2020. From 2019 to 2020, the gun homicide rate rose 32%. The firearm suicide death rate rose 2% from 2019 to 2020.

In 2021, Texas enacted permitless carry. In order to improve its grade, Texas should require background checks for all firearm sales, create extreme risk protection orders, repeal its permitless carry law, enact anti-gun trafficking laws, and strengthen protections for victims of domestic violence and hate crimes.

Website: Learn more about Texas’s ranking by visiting this year’s Scorecard.

Fact Sheet: The State of Gun Violence in Texas.

“2021 was yet another difficult year for our country. Too many communities had to reckon with the trauma and pain of surging gun violence, armed hate, and racial discrimination—all in the midst of the ongoing pandemic,” said Robyn Thomas, executive director of Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. “What our Scorecard shows, year after year, is that it is possible to bring an end to this senseless violence. States with strong gun safety laws have fewer gun deaths—but trafficking leaves residents of these states vulnerable, too. We must see this progress must extend to every single state across the nation. We hope the Gun Law Scorecard will continue to serve as a resource for our elected officials who understand that getting a passing grade can be a matter of life and death.”

In 2020, over 45,000 people were killed by guns—a number of gun deaths not seen in decades. This sharp spike in gun deaths comes after several years of increasing gun deaths. The Annual Gun Law Scorecard highlights opportunities states have to reverse these devastating numbers. Strengthening background checks, implementing child access prevention laws, investing in community violence intervention programs, and passing extreme risk protection order laws are all policies that can reverse the growing gun death rate.

States with the strongest gun laws have continued taking significant steps to protect their residents from gun violence, including:

California (A): Enacted a law to improve efforts to identify gun dealers who engage in gun trafficking, committed $76 million for local community violence intervention and prevention programming, and made it easier for people who survive domestic abuse to obtain firearm-prohibiting protective orders.

New Jersey (A): Committed $10 million in funding for local community violence intervention and prevention programming.

New York (A-): Passed a first-of-its-kind law that allows people to sue gun dealers and manufacturers when they fail to act responsibly and created a state firearm violence research institute.

Maryland (A-): Enacted a law requiring background checks on long gun purchases and committed significant funding for local community violence intervention and prevention programing.

States with the lowest grades are most responsible for the troubling export of guns used for crimes in other states. These states also put their residents at risk by pushing dangerous policies like “Stand Your Ground,” which allows people to shoot first and ask questions later, and permitless carry, which allows untrained, unvetted people to carry hidden, loaded guns in public.

Some of the worst legislation passed in the last year includes:

Iowa (F): Repealed its law requiring background checks on private sales of firearms and allowed people to carry concealed guns in public without safety training or a background check.

Missouri (F): Made law enforcement officers and agencies, public officials, and private individuals personally liable in civil court and subject to a $50,000 fine for enforcing federal gun laws.

Montana (F): Passed a law allowing guns on the campuses of colleges and universities that was later declared unconstitutional.