As Texas mourns the loss of a further seven people from its latest mass shooting, the state has controversially introduced legislation that relaxes its gun laws.
The new laws came into effect on Sunday, just one day after the shooting between the towns of Midland and Odessa.
The gunman also wounded at least 22 people, including a 17-month-old girl, prompting concern in Texas and across the world over the increasing number of mass shootings in the US.
"I have been to too many of these events," Texas Governor Greg Abbott said.
"Too many Texans are in mourning. Too many Texans have lost their lives. The status quo in Texas is unacceptable, and action is needed."
Yet while Governor Abbott, a Republican, spoke of a need for change, he himself gave the green light earlier this year for a change which sees its gun laws relaxed further.
He signed the new laws that eased restrictions on where firearms can be carried, from schools to churches, apartments and foster homes, and barred cities from passing their own gun and ammunition sales limits.
Gov Abbott remains noncommittal about imposing any new gun laws in Texas at a time when Democrats and gun-control groups are demanding restrictions.
Social media was awash with criticism of the new laws which have arrived at a time of heightened emotion off the back of yet another mass shooting.
“Texas is a freaking mess and there's nobody to blame but #GregAbbott and his NRA (National Rifle Association) owned cohorts. They all need their heads examined,” one tweet read.
Texas is a freaking mess & there's nobody to blame but #GregAbbott and his NRA owned cohorts. They all need their heads examined ..— (((Judy#NotMyPrez))) (@PrettyBeaches) September 2, 2019
“[Texas] has become a war zone and it's about to get worse,” another added.
“These crazy gun laws passed, signed by Abbott make the entire state unsafe,” one person said.
But others defended the law change suggesting the looser gun laws was a step forward in preventing mass shootings.
“Good guys with guns is a good step towards stopping mass shootings,” one person said on Twitter.
Following the latest mass shooting, four weeks after 22 people died in a shooting in a Walmart store in El Paso, Republican leadership is still unlikely to push for gun restrictions in a state that has long embraced firearms, experts and advocates on both sides of the gun issue say.
Republicans blaming people, not guns
“When Texas Republicans look at these massacres, they don’t blame guns, or gun laws. They blame people,” Mark Jones, political science professor at Rice University, said in the wake of the El Paso shooting.
“They may blame institutions, schools, families, mental health, but not guns.
“If a school massacre and a church massacre didn’t change people’s opinion, the El Paso massacre isn’t going to.”
Police have identified 36-year-old Seth Ator as the shooter involved in the attacks.
Ator acted alone and federal investigators believe the shooter had no ties to any domestic or international terrorism group, FBI special agent Christopher Combs said.
Authorities said those killed were between the ages of 15 and 57 years old but did not immediately provide a list of names.
At one point, he hijacked a mail carrier truck, killing the lone postal worker inside.
US Postal Service officials identified her as Mary Granados, 29.
Odessa Police Chief Michael Gerke said there were still no answers pointing to a motive for the chaotic rampage, which began Saturday afternoon when Texas state troopers tried pulling over a gold car on Interstate 20 for failing to signal a left turn.
When Ator pulled over he opened fire on officers before driving off.
He was eventually shot dead by officers near a cinema following his rampage.
Texas says guns aren’t ‘root cause of problem’
Texas has no restrictions on gun sales and allows licensed handgun owners to carry their weapons openly or concealed.
Long gun or rifles, like the one used in the El Paso massacre, can be openly carried in public.
Alice Tripp, legislative director and lobbyist for the NRA-affiliated Texas State Rifle Association, said Texans won’t follow other states on gun laws.
“We’re smarter. We’re self-determined and independent and look for the root cause of problems,” Tripp said.
“We don’t follow people who simply say for political purposes, ‘We should have done this or that.’ We look for laws that could have made a difference.”
Abbott and other state leaders have focused on mental health, social media and video games since the El Paso shooting.
Saturday's shooting brings the number of mass killings in the US so far this year to 25, matching the number in all of 2018, according to the Associated Press mass murder database.
The number of people killed this year has already reached 142, surpassing the 140 people who were killed last year.
The database tracks homicides where four or more people are killed, not including the offender.
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