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Texas gun owners advocate for safety

Texas gun owners advocate for safety
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I’ve been a proud gun owner for most of my life, taking my first hunter safety course as a teen. I was born and raised in Texas. And I’m a strong believer in gun safety. These things aren’t contradictory, like the extremists at the National Rifle Association want you to believe — instead, they go hand in hand.

The NRA is, after all, an organization that is flailing through membership declines and corruption trials. It needs the money, and it believes that Texas is a reliable safe space — thanks in large part to the political leaders, including Gov. Greg Abbott, who are friendly to their absolutist beliefs. Not surprisingly, the NRA thinks returning to Dallas this week for its annual convention is a good idea.

But the NRA is wrong.

Texans — gun owners and nonowners alike — are fed up with the NRA’s extreme views. We’re tired of watching gun deaths skyrocket. We’re sick of being scared anytime we head to the mall or send our kids off to school. We’ve witnessed tragedy after tragedy tear apart our state.

Gun deaths have risen nearly 44% since Abbott took office, and it’s no surprise: In the last decade, he’s done nothing but weaken Texas gun laws. In 2021, he repealed Texas’s concealed carry permitting law. This effectively lets anyone who wants to to carry a loaded gun to do so without a background check or training.

Just two years ago, mere days after 19 students and two adults were murdered at an elementary school in Uvalde, the NRA hosted its annual convention just a few hours away.

But things have changed. In 2022, the University of Texas at Austin found that a majority of Texans thought we needed stricter gun laws. Right now, more than 100 people in this country die every day from gun violence. Texans recognize that blindly increasing the number of guns carried in public — while eliminating training and safety requirements — endangers everyone.

I used to be a public school teacher and spent 14 years helping manage lockdown drills for our students. I have three kids, all under 12 years old, who have experienced lockdowns and drills since they started school. The trauma inflicted on everyone involved is immeasurable, and it’s becoming too normal.

Now, I spend my time talking to gun owners who want to get involved in the fight to end gun violence. With Giffords Gun Owners for Safety, I help organize gun owners in support of gun safety, advocate for responsible practices and fight back against the gun lobby’s fearmongering.

Giffords is also taking it a step further and launching its new state program in Texas. With a dedicated team on the ground, we’re here to make sure the gun lobby doesn’t have free rein in one of the largest states in the country, and pass the kind of laws that we know Texans support.

The NRA hasn’t represented the majority of gun owners for a long time. The organization that claims to be the defenders of our freedoms isn’t fighting for our freedom at all — it’s just focused on its profits and political allies.

As Texans, we have a right to feel safe. We know how to protect our families and what will make a difference in our communities.

Shannon Flores leads the Giffords Gun Owners for Safety initiative and lives in Katy, Texas.

We welcome your thoughts in a letter to the editor. See the guidelines and submit your letter here. If you have problems with the form, you can submit via email at letters@dallasnews.com



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