Guns will again take center stage in the upcoming legislative session. Texas lawmakers are expected to take up new and old legislation surrounding Texans rights to carry a firearm and where they are allowed to carry them.
“I was shot in the back of the head and my left shoulder,” Susan Nelson a gun violence survivor said, “both bullets are still in me.”
Nelson was the victim of a home robbery in 1993. She says a robber shot her and her neighbor Gary Rutherford point blank as they tried to escape from Gary’s North Texas apartment.
“Every day there is writing in my medical records that they didn’t think I would make it to the next day,” Nelson said. “Doctors said I was a miracle.”
Nelson survived. She spent two weeks in a coma and years recovering. Her neighbor, Gary, didn’t make it. Nelson says stricter gun laws at the time might have saved his life.
“I think that people need to be better educated and trained on the use of guns, how they are used, and definitely how they are stored. That would have made a huge difference,” Nelson said. “I don’t blame my friend in any way. He lost his life, he died. He paid the ultimate price for his gun not being properly stored, but he wasn’t educated in it.”
Nelson joined gun safety groups like Texas Gun Sense on the Texas Capitol steps on Wednesday. They want stricter gun laws that promote gun education and safety introduced during the 85th legislation session. They also want to revisit laws implemented last year like “campus carry” and “open carry”.
“We would like to pass legislation to address the 1700 Texans that die by suicide each year,” Andrea Brauer, Executive Director of Texas Gun Sense said. “Nothing on our agenda would take away from a law abiding competent citizen’s right to purchase and own a gun.”
Brauer says the only way to move forward is to open up the discussion. She says lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have already expressed interest in the idea and promoting Texas safety.
“At this point, if there are some changes,” Texas Senator Kel Seliger, R-Amarillo, said on revisiting the campus carry law. “I’d like to know what people want to change and how and I think we ought to have that dialogue all the time.”
Texas lawmakers passed the campus carry law during last session. The law allows licensed holders to carry concealed handguns inside buildings on public college campuses across the state. The new law gives universities a year to figure out how they plan to implement campus carry and where their designated “gun-free zones” are located.
Already several bills have been filed by lawmakers that target gun rights.
State Representative Donna Howard, D-Austin, filed a bill that would expand gun free zones on college campuses as well as keeping guns out of state hospitals.
The latest bill filed this week by State Senator Robert Nichols (R-Jacksonville) eliminates fees for handgun licenses altogether.
Lt. Governor Dan Patrick applauded Nichol’s bill, saying in a statement, “No Texan should be deprived of their right to self-protection because of onerous licensing fees imposed by the state.”
The 85th legislative session begins January 10th .