The Texas House approved a batch of bills Saturday to further soften gun laws that were already among the country's most firearms-friendly, allowing college students to carry handguns in class, putting potentially armed marshals in public schools and exempting the state from any future federal bans on assault rifles, high-capacity magazines or universal background checks.
Dubbed "gun day" by supporters and opponents alike, the parade of votes came as tens of thousands of members of the National Rifle Association attended the group's annual convention in Houston. Gov. Rick Perry welcomed convention attendees Friday with a video of him taking target practice using a semi-automatic rifle.
The 12 approved gun bills must all clear final, procedural votes before heading to the state Senate. Still, they advanced with only minimal delay, cruising past Democrat-led efforts to block or stall them. Nearly all were approved by simple voice votes.
A Democratic parliamentary point of order managed to shoot down just one, a bill by Rep. Van Taylor, R-Plano, that would have allowed the use of a concealed handgun license as valid proof of personal identification — even though obtaining such licenses requires a background check that's not necessary to get driver licenses and many other forms of ID.
The fiercest debate in the Republican-controlled chamber came over the plan to allow students over 21 who already hold concealed weapons permits to take their handguns into college classrooms. The issue became exceedingly volatile during the last legislative session in 2011, and ultimately failed.