More than 1 million men and women in Texas have active licenses to carry handguns. Only Florida, with 1.7 million as of May 2016, had more licensees than Texas, the New York Times reports. Some Texans bring their guns to church on Sunday and to the office on Monday. Students carry on college campuses, and foremen carry at the construction site. People carry in the Texas Capitol. They carry in their cars and on their boats. Republicans carry, and Democrats carry, too. “I always carry,” said Jerry Patterson, a Republican former state senator who wrote the 1995 law that gave Texans the right to carry concealed weapons and that helped Texas become one of America’s gun-friendliest states. “There are no more ‘safe places’ in our world.”
One day after the shooting at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs left 26 parishioners dead, there were calls by Texas Republicans to have more parishioners arm themselves at churches on Sundays, and responses by Democrats denouncing such moves. Gunman Devin Kelley was confronted by one of the church’s neighbors, Steven Willeford, after Kelley exited the church, and Willeford shot Kelley, who dropped his own rifle, fled in his vehicle and was later found dead. There is one thing that was not in doubt. In a state where the modern era of mass shootings began with Charles Whitman’s 1966 rampage at the University of Texas clock tower, guns remain an inseparable part of the Texas DNA.