AUSTIN, Texas (AP) -- The calls for tighter gun controls that have swelled since the February mass shooting at a Florida high school have barely registered in gun-loving Texas — at least to this point.
It remains to be seen if the mass shooting Friday at a high school in Santa Fe, southeast of Houston, will move the needle on the gun debate in Texas. But if November's attack at a church near San Antonio that killed more than two dozen people is any indication, it will not.
Texas has some of the country's most permissive gun laws and just hosted the NRA's annual conference earlier this month — as clear a sign as could be of the state's affinity for guns. In the run-up to Texas' march primaries, gun control wasn't a main issue with candidates of either party. Republicans didn't soften their views on guns and Democrats kept campaigning on a range of issues instead of zeroing in on gun violence, despite the strongest push in years by Democrats in many other states to enact tighter firearms restrictions.
Even before the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, in which a former student killed 17 people, Texas candidates weren't talking about the deadlier massacre months earlier at the church in tiny Sutherland Springs. A gunman with an AR-15-style rifle shot and killed 25 people, more than half of whom were children. Authorities put the official toll death at 26 because one of the victims was pregnant.
Texas has more than 1 million residents who are licensed to carry handguns. Since the 2012 shooting of an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, Texas has expanded gun rights by making it cheaper and easier to get licensed and allowing handguns into college classrooms and dorms.
President Donald Trump has been looking at Texas as a possible model for his proposal to arm teachers in the wake of the Florida shooting. After the church attack, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said more guns were needed in churches.
Democratic Rep. Beto O'Rourke, who is mounting a longshot bid to unseat Republican Sen. Ted Cruz, has gone further than other Democrats in calling for a ban on assault rifles like those used in both the Florida and Sutherland Springs attacks.
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