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Home | Tag Archives: texas gun laws

Tag Archives: texas gun laws

Analysis: Texas gun laws might not change, but the conversation is evolving

It seems safe to say that neither the Texas Legislature nor the Republican Party is going to follow Beto O’Rourke’s call for a mandatory buyback of assault weapons.

Actually, it seems safe to say lots of Texas Democrats are just as unlikely to sign up.

But it’s also clear that the hard lines drawn over years and years of debating about guns in Texas and in the U.S. are getting a little blurry.

Texas politicians and officeholders are talking about guns in new ways. Repeated mass shootings can change minds, slowly. Legislative committees and state leaders are talking now about restrictions that were recently considered well out of bounds for Texas, like “red flag” laws and background checks and the like. Democrats, generally more willing to regulate firearms, are lugging around a pile of bills that haven’t passed in recent sessions that would tighten laws around possession, use and sale of guns.

Republicans are not lugging a similar stack. But some of them are reconsidering long-held positions.

After mass shootings at Sutherland Springs Baptist Church and Santa Fe High School, Gov. Greg Abbott pulled together some roundtable discussions to talk about possible state action. What came out were suggestions — many of them now appearing as new state laws — for mental health monitoring, laws that might make schools safer from attacks and other measures that stayed safely away from possession, use and sale of guns.

Abbott had another idea, too, that has been adopted elsewhere but not in Texas: What about a red flag law that would allow judges, after full hearings, to temporarily take guns away from people deemed dangerous to themselves or others?

It was a move into the gray area between gun control advocates and Second Amendment advocates, and it didn’t last a month. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick announced at the time — this was a little more than year ago — that the idea wouldn’t get anywhere in his Texas Senate.

But after the more recent shootings this summer in El Paso and in Odessa, Patrick has wandered into that gray area, suggesting an expansion of background checks to include “stranger to stranger” sales between individuals. He wouldn’t require background checks when people sell guns to family and friends, but even with that cutout, Second Amendment advocates who have generally considered Patrick a powerful ally are kicking and screaming about his suggestion.

It’s not like Texas leaders are suddenly hostile to the Second Amendment, or to gun owners or sellers or even to firearms. Heading to hunting leases or shooting ranges with political reporters in tow remains a staple of state politics. That kind of demonstration of individualism is not going to fade any time soon.

In fact, during their legislative session earlier this year, Texas lawmakers loosened some restrictions on guns.

And you might notice the distance between what Abbott and Patrick and others have dared to talk about and what is still considered untouchable. Expanded background checks don’t prevent people from getting guns and don’t really affect most buyers. Red flag laws are arguably more about gun owners’ mental health and condition than about their guns.

Texas Republicans have not wiggled on issues that directly address the hardware involved. They’re maintaining a safe and frankly delighted distance from positions like presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke’s “Hell yes, we’re going to take your AR-15, your AK-47” declaration in last week’s Democratic presidential debate.

O’Rourke and Patrick and Abbott do have one thing in common, however, even though they appear to share little common ground. Each is talking about things that have been verboten in state politics, and in the politics of their two parties.

But the political duck-and-cover drills on Second Amendment issues have changed: Republicans can talk about red flag laws and say they’re just considering Greg Abbott’s suggestion. They can talk about background checks without being painted as liberals, since they’re in lockstep with the lieutenant governor. And the Democrats? They can point to Beto O’Rourke as a radical outlier, claiming everything short of his proposal is a moderate idea.

Maybe the laws won’t change in a significant way; there’s no way to know, really, until the Legislature or Congress does something. But there is a conversation.

Author: ROSS RAMSEY – The Texas Tribune

Gov. Abbott signs several school safety bills in wake of shooting at Santa Fe High

Capping off a yearslong effort to prevent another school shooting like the Santa Fe High tragedy, Gov. Greg Abbott signed a series of bills into law Thursday that would, among other things, strengthen mental health initiatives available to children and allot money to school districts that can go toward “hardening” their campuses.

sweeping school safety measureSenate Bill 11, instructs school districts to implement multihazard emergency operation plans, requires certain training for school resource officers, ensures school district employees — including substitute teachers — are trained to respond to emergencies, and establishes threat assessment teams to help identify potentially dangerous students and determine the best ways to intervene before they become violent.

The bill is, in part, a product of Abbott convening lawmakers soon after last May’s shooting at Santa Fe High, which left 10 dead and another 13 wounded. Before signing the measure Thursday at the Texas Capitol, Abbott said that SB 11’s passage was made possible through the efforts of House and Senate lawmakers and fruitful discussions that came out of a series of roundtable discussions he hosted shortly after the shooting.

The legislation addresses “not only the tragedy that took place at Santa Fe,” Abbott said at Thursday, “but will do more than Texas has ever done to make schools safer places for our students, for our educators, for our parents and families.”

Republican state Sen. Larry Taylor and state Rep. Greg Bonnen — who both represent the Santa Fe school district — said they were pleased with lawmakers’ headway this session as it relates to school safety and mental health initiatives.

“It is unfortunate that the events such as what happened at Santa Fe occurred, but we are taking action to do everything that we can reasonably do,” Bonnen said.

The law, which Bonnen and Taylor authored, also resurrects this session’s largest mental health bill, and creates a Texas Mental Health Consortium aimed at bringing together psychiatric professionals from Texas medical schools and other health care providers to connect children to mental health services.

Aside from SB 11, Abbott signed a separate mental health bill Thursday by state Rep. Four Price, R-Amarillo, that increases mental health training for educators and other school professionals and improves students’ access to mental and behavioral health services.

“We are taking a very significant step forward,” Price said of his legislation. “We’re reducing the stigma that is associated with mental illness, and we’re equipping our counselors, administrators and educators throughout the state of Texas to identify children in crisis — again, all with parental consent.”

While both the mental health and omnibus school safety measures garnered bipartisan support in the House and Senate, their success came as a number of other school safety bills drew heavy criticism from Democrats and gun control advocates. The third bill Abbott signed into law Thursday abolishes the cap on how many trained school teachers and support staff — known as school marshals — can carry guns on public school campuses.

The signing of that bill disrupted the harmony between Texas Republicans and gun control proponents who, otherwise pleased with the bill signings, lamented that the marshal bill passed and another “red flag” law measure — which would have allowed courts to order the seizure of guns from people who are deemed an imminent threat — never gained traction at the Capitol.

“I think ultimately that’s going to be something we need,” said Ed Scruggs, vice chair for Texas Gun Sense. “In most cases there are signs. There are threats that are made or social media posts — something is occurring that’s tipping people off that we could have a problem here.”

Asked by reporters Thursday whether he supports “red flag” laws, Abbott said that “right now” such a measure wasn’t necessary in Texas — though he asked lawmakers to consider the idea shortly after the shooting. “We think the best approach is what we passed in the combination of these bills,” the governor said.

Still, Scruggs gave a thumbs-up to lawmakers for their progress on school safety bills and said that “overall, things were positive.”

Author: ALEX SAMUELS – The Texas Tribune

The 86th Legislature runs from Jan. 8 to May 27. From the state budget to health care to education policy — and the politics behind it all — we focus on what Texans need to know about the biennial legislative session.


Texas school safety measures expanded with House amendments to sweeping legislation

The Texas House expanded a sweeping school safety bill that now calls for students to learn about domestic violence prevention, requires certain training for school resource officers and would provide an undetermined amount of state money for campus security measures and mental health initiatives.

Some of the lower chamber’s additions to Senate Bill 11 on Tuesday revived the language or intent of a handful of House bills that were presumed dead after they failed to gain traction throughout the legislative session that ends Monday. Those successful amendments and the bill itself are lawmakers’ response to last year’s deadly shooting at Santa Fe High School.

“This legislation is inspired by the students, faculty and staff at Santa Fe High School,” said state Rep. Greg Bonnen, R-Friendswood, the House sponsor of the bill.

The House tentatively approved the new version of SB 11 in a 128-14 vote Tuesday. It now heads back to the Senate, which must agree to the changes or call for a conference committee to iron out the differences between the two chambers’ versions.

State Sen. Larry Taylor, a Republican from Friendswood and the Senate author of the bill, said he was working closely with Bonnen on language for the final version. Both men represent Santa Fe Independent School District.

The Senate version of the bill was overwhelmingly approved last month. It would strengthen mental health initiatives in Texas schools and ensure school districts’ employees — including substitute teachers — are equipped to respond to emergencies by requiring they have classroom access to a telephone and other electronic communication. It would also establish threat assessment teams to help identify potentially dangerous students and determine the best ways to intervene before they become violent. The reworked bill from the Texas House keeps these provisions in place.

SB 11, under both chambers’ versions, also requires school districts to appoint school safety committees that meet once a semester to provide their boards of trustees with recommendations for updates to their districts’ emergency operations plans.

In the revised version of the bill, Bonnen stripped a provision from the Senate bill which offered loan repayment assistance to those who serve as school counselors and licensed specialists on school psychology.

House lawmakers Tuesday also tacked on a number of amendments to the omnibus school safety bill including one, by Bonnen, saying that threat assessment teams can not provide mental health services for students younger than 18 unless they receive written consent from their parents. Another by state Rep. Four Price, R-Amarillo, requires school curriculums include courses on mental health and suicide prevention.

The lower chamber’s approval of Taylor’s bill comes on the heels of the anniversary of a shooting at Santa Fe High School, which left 10 dead and another 13 wounded. The bill touches on a number of proposals Gov. Greg Abbott laid out in a 43-page school safety plan he released less than two weeks after the shooting, including strengthening school security and mental health counseling.

School safety, among a number of other measures, topped Abbott’s priority list that he laid out early this year. During his State of the State speech, the governor reassured Texans that the Legislature would take steps this year to ensure a tragedy like the one at Santa Fe wouldn’t happen again.

And aside from Taylor’s sweeping school safety measure approved by the Texas House Tuesday, other school safety measures picking up steam this year include a bevy of bills that would alter an existing state-sanctioned program to arm teachers, including one to abolish a state-sanctioned cap on how many trained school employees can carry guns on campus.

Read related Tribune coverage

Author: ALEX SAMUELS – The Texas Tribune

The 86th Legislature runs from Jan. 8 to May 27. From the state budget to health care to education policy — and the politics behind it all — we focus on what Texans need to know about the biennial legislative session.


Prospects For “Red Flag” Gun Law in Texas Plummet as Abbott Sees “Coalescence” Against It

The chances of Texas passing a so-called “red flag” law after the Santa Fe school shooting continued to drop Friday as Gov. Greg Abbott said he saw a “coalescence” against the proposal.

As part of his school safety plan released after the May 18 massacre, the Republican governor asked the Legislature to consider such a law, which would allow courts to order the seizure or surrender of guns from people are deemed an imminent threat by a judge.

But even then, Abbott’s request for lawmakers to study the proposal drew the ire of some Second Amendment hardliners in the governor’s party, and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick declared Tuesday that he has never supported a “red flag” law and suggested it would be dead on arrival in the Senate.

Abbott, appearing Friday at an unrelated news conference in Austin, was asked if he still wanted lawmakers to consider the idea in the wake of Patrick’s comment.

“If you go back and look at what I said in my plan, I suggested what the Legislature consider — whether or not the existing protective order laws in the state of Texas were adequate or whether or not they should be amended to add emergency risk protective orders,” Abbott said. “And it seems like there’s coalescence around the notion of not supporting what’s categorized as a ‘red flag’ law. What is important is … that we work together as a legislative body towards solution to make our schools safer and to make our communities safer.”

Abbott included red flag proposals in his school and gun safety plan after the issue was raised at a roundtable discussion in the week following the massacre in Santa Fe. In his plan, Abbott encouraged the Legislature to “consider the merits of adopting a red flag law” that would allow firearms to be removed from a potentially dangerous person after legal due process. In the plan, he claimed that protective orders restricting gun possession, like red flag laws, could have prevented the mass shootings in Sutherland Springs and Parkland, Florida.

On Friday, Abbott reiterated that his request for lawmakers to consider a “red flag” law was not meant to be a personal endorsement of the proposal. “That’s correct, and also as you know, I made that clear,” Abbott told reporters, alluding to June tweet where he told a critic he does not “advocate red flag laws” in his school safety plan, “only that is something the legislature can consider.”

The tweet came during a 12-hour Texas House hearing on potential red flag legislation, after the topic, and concerns of Abbott’s approval, gained sharp criticism from conservative groups and opposition toward any such law was written in the Texas GOP’s party platform.

In the plan, Abbott also asked the Legislature to evaluate whether existing protective orders that prohibit gun possession are sufficient. Currently, courts can notify Texans under certain protective orders, like those in domestic violence cases, that they cannot own guns or ammunition, but state law gives no guidance on how to enforce the prohibition.


New Texas Law Lowers fees for Handgun Licenses

A license to carry a handgun in Texas used to be unaffordable for many Texans, including Cole Parker of Deer Park.

That changed Sept. 1, he said, when a new state law went into effect, significantly reducing the cost to get a license to carry a handgun. The law, Senate Bill 16, lowers the first-time fee for a five-year license to carry from $140 to $40 and the renewal fee from $70 to $40.

“The $140 fee was the only thing that stopped me from getting a license to carry a handgun,” Parker, 42, said. “The reason I don’t have my license after all these years is because the cost was so high.”

The new fee is expected to cost the state roughly $12.6 million in 2018. The measure allows peace officers to get a license for free.

“What a lot of people fail to realize is that its not just a $140 fee,” said C.J. Grisham, the founder and president of Open Carry Texas. “You also have to pay for the training class, ammunition and the cost to get fingerprinted.”

The new law makes Texas one of the cheapest places in the nation to get a license, state Sen. Robert Nichols, R-Jacksonville, said during the legislative session. Before the law passed, only Arkansas and Illinois had more expensive fees, he said.

Still, some Texans think the state shouldn’t ask gun owners to pay anything for a license.

“They shouldn’t charge a dime,” said Ken Phillips, a Tyler resident who does not have a handgun license. “It’s a God-given right.”

Gov. Greg Abbott agrees; a spokeswoman from his office said in January that the governor believes Texas shouldn’t impose any fees on licenses to carry handguns. The fee will go to the Department of Public Safety to cover the costs to administer the license program as well as $27 needed for county, state and federal background checks.

“Would I like to see it free? I’d love that, but I do understand there are state resources that cost money,” Parker said. “Somebody has to be paid.”

In April 2016, there were more than 1 million active handgun license holders in Texas, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety.

“I believe the number of licenses will go through the roof because people like myself will look at the $40 fee and say, ‘yes, I can pay that,’” Parker said.

Now on the Books MORE IN THIS SERIES 

Read related Tribune coverage:

  • Hundreds of new state laws have gone into effect, including a statewide texting-while-driving ban. But two other high-profile measures – one dealing with abortion, the other immigration – are currently blocked by federal injunctions. [Full story]
  • Texans who have lost or damaged their license to carry a handgun as a result of Hurricane Harvey can receive a free replacement, Gov. Greg Abbott announced. [Full story]
  • After signing a bill and testing out a few guns at a shooting range, Gov. Greg Abbott held up his bullet-riddled target sheet and joked, “I’m gonna carry this around in case I see any reporters.” [Full story]

Author:  ALEX SAMUELS – The Texas Tribune

As Open Carry takes effect, Officials predict lawsuits

As the New Year arrived, so did a new option for gun-toting Texans.

The state’s roughly 826,000 handgun license holders, who previously had to keep their firearms concealed, can now carry them openly in a hip or shoulder holster.

Across Texas, law enforcement officials, city leaders and business owners are bracing for lawsuits.

That’s because state officials have so far largely left interpretation of the new law, which Gov. Greg Abbott signed in June, up to local authorities. Prosecutors and police chiefs across the state’s 254 counties will now each determine their own answer to what was one of the most hotly debated questions of the 2015 legislative session: whether police officers can ask those visibly carrying guns to present their permits.

“There is a difference of opinion about whether or not just the mere fact that someone is walking down Main Street carrying a pistol in a holster is sufficient probable cause for a police officer to insist on seeing their handgun permit,” said Kevin Laurence, the executive director of the Texas Municipal Police Association. “We are going to wind up having to get court cases out of this defining exactly what authority police officers have.”

Heralding the new open carry law as a much-needed update to the state’s gun regulations, Second Amendment rights activists say it lifts a burden unfairly placed on law-abiding citizens.

“I believe the state is prepared for a smooth, simple transition from concealed to open carry, though I expect most people will continue to carry concealed,” state Sen. Craig Estes, the Wichita Falls Republican who sponsored the legislation, said in a statement. “I truly believe the new law will benefit all law-abiding Texans.”

But the legislation’s critics have warned it could have negative consequences for tourism, retail and public safety in the state.

And when it comes to enforcement, confusion reigns.

Laurence said his organization, which represents more than 22,000 Texas law enforcement officers at the state, county and local level, has advised police officers to seek guidance from their departments on how they should approach open carry — and whether they need some evidence or suspicion of criminal activity to ask to see someone’s gun permit.

“The biggest emotion going on out there is confusion,” he said.

While the law protects existing “gun-free zones” — school campuses, courthouses and certain public property, for example — there’s still some uncertainty about where such zones begin and end.

In September, state Sen. John Whitmire, a Houston Democrat who opposes open carry, asked Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton whether the law merely gave schools the authority to prohibit guns in buildings and classrooms, or whether that authority extended to all district property, including parking lots, sidewalks and driveways.

Attorneys for Hays and Tom Green counties both asked Paxton to clarify their authority to limit handguns in multipurpose government buildings that also house courts. Their question boils down to whether officials may only ban guns in rooms where court proceedings take place — or if they can bar them from an entire building if the building houses a courtroom, said Hays County Criminal Attorney Wes Mau.

Paxton offered some clarification on the new law in three advisory opinions issued on Dec. 21. He ruled that school districts could prohibit weapons on all district property, including sidewalks and driveways, but that local officials could only ban guns from courtrooms, not entire courthouse facilities.

Complicating matters for government entities is a second law legislators passed in 2015, one that imposes a fine on local officials who improperly ban handguns in public places.

But it’s not just government entities grappling with open carry. Businesses in Texas are choosing between allowing open carry of handguns — which can make patrons uneasy — or facing an angry backlash from gun rights activists if they don’t.

Shortly after the law passed, Whataburger announced it would not allow open carry in its restaurants. Targeted outrage and calls for a boycott of the San Antonio-based fast food chain led CEO Preston Atkinson to make a public statement on the policy.

He said that while the company supports the Second Amendment, it made the “business decision” not to allow open carry in its restaurants “a long time ago.”

“We’re the gathering spot for Little League teams, church groups and high school kids after football games,” Atkinson wrote. “We’ve had many customers and employees tell us they’re uncomfortable being around someone with a visible firearm who is not a member of law enforcement, and as a business, we have to listen and value that feedback.”

Under the open carry law, if a business wants to prohibit all handguns on its property, it must post two signs in English and Spanish, one banning concealed handguns and another banning open carry.

The new requirements — and the legal threat companies face for not complying — are especially burdensome for small businesses that lack corporate resources like an in-house lawyer, said state Rep. Diego Bernal, a Democrat.

Since October, Bernal has been distributing signs that meet state requirements to small businesses in his San Antonio district that wish to ban firearms.

“The state has zero plan to let people know what to expect — folks are kind of in the dark,” said Bernal. “There are going to be a patchwork of interpretations and probably a patchwork of lawsuits. It was so poorly done.”

Author:  – The Texas Tribune

The Texas Tribune is a nonpartisan, nonprofit media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them – about public policy, pol itics, government and statewide issues.

UT/TT Poll: Texans Say Mental Health Top Cause of U.S. Mass Shootings

Mental health issues, gun laws, unstable families and media coverage get most of the blame for mass shootings in the U.S. in recent years, according to the latest University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll.

Voters also attributed either “a great deal” or “a fair amount” of the blame for shootings in the U.S. to the spread of extremist views on the internet and to drug use.

“When we look at the explanations for the shootings, what we see is that there is bipartisan agreement on the failure of the mental health system,” said Jim Henson, head of the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas at Austin and co-director of the poll. “It was the No. 1 response among most major subgroups. If I was a political leader looking for an area where we could get agreement on gun violence, this is where I would look.” 

“It prompts immediate reactions that we ought to regulate guns.  But when you offer a plethora of options, I think people respond to the notion that there are crazy people out here and you ought to do something about these crazy people.”

Shaw noted the 41 percent who want stricter gun laws in a state that is generally seen as pro-gun rights.  That said, he said 54 percent either want gun control laws left alone or loosened.

Asked how they view the National Rifle Association, 48 percent say they have a favorable opinion, while 31 percent have an unfavorable opinion of that group. While 56 percent of Republicans have favorable impressions of the NRA, only 7 percent of Democrats do. And while 24 percent of Republicans have a negative opinion, 78 percent of Democrats do.

Immigration and the Border

Texas voters consistently rank immigration and the border as top issues facing the state — a signal to politicians that those positions matter — and the voters have some hardline views on the subject.

More than half agree with this statement: “Undocumented immigrants currently living in the United States should be deported immediately.”

While 39 percent disagree, 55 percent agree. Some are more emphatic: 30 percent strongly agree, and 21 percent strongly disagree.

Partisan and ethnic differences are deep. While 74 percent of Republicans agree, 64 percent of Democrats do not. Anglos (63 percent) and blacks (54 percent) agree, but Hispanics (58 percent) do not.

“I don’t know that the public has a set way of viewing immigration in the way they have a set way of viewing something like taxes,” Shaw said. “There are reasons to question whether you can frame this in a way that advantages you in 2016, and whether that’s in the long-term interest of the party.”

Almost half of Texas voters favor amending the U.S. Constitution to repeal automatic citizenship for children born here regardless of their parents’ legal status. But while 48 percent favor that notion, 39 percent oppose it.

“Republicans continue to have highly restrictive attitudes on immigration,” Henson said. “You see overall support for deportation, but that number is driven by lopsided results among Republicans and especially, Tea Party Republicans.

“To the extent that we are hearing the drums beating loudly and persistently on immigration in the Republican presidential primary, this is where the sheet music is coming from,” he said. “These numbers are extremely one-sided.”

 Sanctuary cities — a term for cities where local law enforcement agencies do not actively enforce some federal immigration laws — are not popular with Texas voters.
The survey found that 60 percent disapprove of sanctuary cities while 23 percent approve.
As with the other immigration questions, the answers were marked by partisan differences. For instance, only 2 percent of Tea Party Republicans said they approve of sanctuary cities, compared with 46 percent of Democrats.

“It suggests that the Trump/Cruz line sells pretty well in Texas,” Shaw said, Donald Trump and Ted Cruz were tied for the lead for the presidential nomination among Republican primary voters in the poll, and each has taken a particularly hardline approach to immigration policy and favored deporting undocumented immigrants now in the U.S. “It’s important to get it right because so many people think it’s a big important issue.”


An overwhelming majority — 87 percent — say women who want to avoid becoming pregnant should have access to birth control. Only 5 percent say they should not have access; the remainder express no opinion.

Almost half of Texas voters — 45 percent — consider themselves “pro-life,” while 35 percent consider themselves to be “pro-choice,” the survey found. The remainder — about one voter in five — chose neither label.

“I think the label matters, because candidates use the label,” Shaw said. “If you drill down and ask people more detailed questions, the label matters but doesn’t specifically map their policy positions.”

“The clear problem here is that because Planned Parenthood is an abortion provider and because they have a political arm that is very active and very identified with Democratic candidates, they have become a political target,” Henson said.

While 34 percent say they have a favorable impression of the organization, 46 percent say they have an unfavorable opinion.

Included in that last group are 38 percent who say they have a “very unfavorable” opinion of Planned Parenthood.

Republicans lead the way to those ratings, but the organization’s Democratic support has weakened in Texas, compared with results from the May 2012 UT/TT Poll. Then, 77 percent of Democrats had favorable opinions of Planned Parenthood, but that dropped to 62 percent in this poll. Most of those Democrats landed in the neutral/undecided bin, Henson said.

Planned Parenthood has spent much of 2015 responding to a series of videos released by abortion opponents — the Center for Medical Progress — that purport to show Planned Parenthood officials discussing the sales of tissue and organs from aborted fetuses. Though Planned Parenthood has criticized the videos for being heavily edited, last month the organization said it would no longer take reimbursement for fetal tissue research.

“The recent negative campaign against Planned Parenthood at the national level and in the state seems to have successfully reframed them in the mind of some people and weakened them with some Democrats,” he said.

Voters’ views of Planned Parenthood contrast sharply with their opinions of the NRA, another highly politicized organization in the news. Each is seen by voters largely through partisan filters.

“Any of these organizations that come across as being intrinsically involved in the partisan debate have kind of a stench about them,” Shaw said. That’s reflected in the partisan underpinnings of voter opinions.

Same-sex marriage

Texans are split exactly down the middle when it comes to same-sex marriage, with 43 percent saying gay and lesbian couples should have the right to marry and 43 percent saying they should not have that right.

Those overall numbers mask partisan differences. Among Democrats, 65 percent approve of same-sex marriage. But 59 percent of Republicans disapprove.

There is also a gender gap: 48 percent of women approve, while only 38 percent of men do.

And there is also a big church gap: Same-sex marriage is not okay with 68 percent of Texans who attend church more than once a week and 56 percent of those who attend at least once a week. Among those who never attend church, 51 percent say same-sex couples have the right to marry.

“Texans are very divided,” Henson said. “If you look at it, they are still more open to gay marriage now, but Republicans are still resistant. Democrats have moved much more rapidly on the issue than Republicans. With some of the recent politicization of gay marriage and the national conversation, it’s not surprising to see Republicans not moving much on this.”

The University of Texas/Texas Tribune internet survey of 1,200 registered voters was conducted from Oct. 30 to Nov. 8 and has an overall margin of error of +/- 2.83 percentage points. Numbers in charts might not add up to 100 percent because of rounding.

UT/TT Poll, November 2015 – Methodology
PDF (66.2 KB) download
UT/TT Poll, November 2015 – Summary
PDF (209.1 KB) download

This is one of several stories on the latest University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll. Thursday: The race for president. Friday: What Texas voters think about various state and federal officeholders and institutions. Tomorrow: The mood of the state.

Disclosure: The University of Texas at Austin is a corporate sponsor of The Texas Tribune. Planned Parenthood was a corporate sponsor of the Tribune in 2011. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here.

Author:   – The Texas Tribune | All graphics by Emily Albracht

The Texas Tribune is a nonpartisan, nonprofit media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them – about public policy, pol itics, government and statewide issues.

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