Headline feels misleading about TX gun bill

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Texas has a very pro-gun reputation, which kind of fits with the Old West vibe the state typically exudes.

However, like any state, they’re never perfect on everything.


While Texas has passed a lot of pro-gun legislation, they recently passed one designed to restrict who could buy firearms.

That’s not great, but a headline in the state framed it as far worse than it was.

“Texas Senate passes first bill this session, a bipartisan effort to close teen gun loophole,” the headline reads.

Yet what’s there isn’t quite what it seems.

The Texas Senate on Wednesday passed a bill that would close a loophole in state law that had allowed gun sales to people who were involuntarily hospitalized for mental illness between the ages of 16 and 18. It was the first bill passed by the Senate this year.

Courts are supposed to report all involuntary mental health hospitalizations to the Texas Department of Public Safety, which then sends those records to the FBI’s national firearms background check system. But last year, a ProPublica and Texas Tribune investigation found that information about mental health hospitalizations of juveniles age 16 and older were not being reported by county and district courts due to problems with the way the state law was written and vague guidance from the state.

As a result, when those juveniles who’d been involuntarily hospitalized turned 18, they could pass the background check and buy a rifle — if they did not have a criminal record.

The problem came to light after the elementary school shooting in Uvalde, in which 19 students and two teachers were killed by an 18-year-old shooter who had bought two AR-15 semi-automatic rifles after passing a background check. The shooter had a history of mental health problems, officials have said, but had never been hospitalized.


Now, don’t get me wrong here, I’m not crazy about this kind of measure. Not everyone who is “involuntarily admitted” to a hospital for mental health problems is a perpetual risk. There’s a far cry from someone who is admitted because they, at one point, are likely to take their own life and someone who is likely to be a mass shooter.

But the headline feels more than a little misleading; as if it’s suggesting the Senate is doing something far more invasive.

Let’s remember that one of the more controversial bits of gun control out there is the effort to restrict gun ownership exclusively for those 21 and above. Maybe it’s just me, but my first inclination upon reading the headline was to think precisely that had somehow gotten through the Texas Senate.

Still, what happened was bad enough, and it’s not like the headline is necessarily inaccurate. To be fair, I might be the only one who took it that way.

Yet it’s still a bad sign when Texas lawmakers are interested in making it more difficult for law-abiding citizens to get firearms. Further, it’s clear they’re buying into the stigma of mental illness.


Folks, a lot of people suffer from mental illness and are still absolutely trustworthy with a gun. Some while still struggling and others after they’ve gotten through a crisis.

Nothing about this situation sits well with me. Absolutely nothing.

I expected better from Texas.

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