Subtitles section Play video Print subtitles It was the last Friday of the school year, and I had been actually subbing for a teacher for 3 days. It just seemed like a nice day. On May 18th, 2018, a gunman entered a high school in Santa Fe, Texas and opened fire. I look down and I realize in my pants⏤I had bloody holes in my pants and I realized: I'm shot. The gunman killed ten people. Flo Rice was shot six times. And then, finally, Scot managed to, um, he managed to find me. For four years, Flo and Scot have told their story over and over to push for new laws that could prevent mass shootings. It's made them part of a recurring conversation on guns in the US and a cycle the country has seemed stuck in for decades: a mass shooting, a push for reform, and then, no action. - ... the tragic school shooting in Santa Fe, Texas... - ...this time in El Paso... - ...nine people killed in Dayton... - ...how many years do we have to go through this? - ...Congress is paralyzed... - ...we collectively seem to ask the same question: What does it take to pass some gun reform in this country? But here's the thing, this cycle of inaction on gun laws isn't exactly accurate. Over the past few decades, federal legislation on guns has been rare. But in state legislatures, mass shootings have led to new gun laws. Thousands of them. And how those laws have emerged can tell us a lot about the future of guns in the US. In 2020, a study tried to determine "the impact of mass shootings on gun policy". They looked at 25 years of high-profile mass shootings. Then, they looked at gun legislation passed during that time⏤over 3,000 laws across all 50 states. When they took a closer look at those laws, a pattern emerged: That, at first seemed unsurprising, state legislatures controlled by Democrats were more likely to pass tighter gun laws. Republican-controlled states typically loosened gun laws. But they found a key difference. Mass shootings didn't have any statistically significant effect on the number of laws passed by Democrats. While for Republican legislatures, a mass shooting roughly doubles the number of laws enacted that loosen gun restrictions in the next year. To arm more teachers, for example, or arm more school staff. That's James Barragán, a politics reporter at the "Texas Tribune". There is more access to guns afterwards, and a state like Texas would go more towards, um, pro-gun policies in the aftermath of a gun shooting. Texas has some of the loosest gun laws in the nation, and that matters for people all over the country. People probably don't know about the importance of, uh, state gun laws and, really, state laws in general. Our gun laws at the federal level had been frozen in time since basically the 1990s, which allowed the states to have a much bigger role and a much bigger influence in how gun culture played out in their jurisdictions. Let's look at Texas. In 1991, a gunman killed 23 people at a Luby's restaurant in Killeen, Texas. A woman there named Suzanna Hupp lost both her parents in the shooting. She believed she could have stopped the massacre and turned her experience into a crusade for loosening gun laws. I'm mad at my legislators for legislating me out of the right to protect myself and my family. It worked. In 1994, Texas elected a new governor, George W. Bush, who made it legal to carry a concealed gun his first year in office and set off a trend in the state that's continued for decades. For example, in 2012, after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting drew attention to gun laws across the country, Texas responded a few months later by creating a program allowing some school employees to carry guns in school. In 2017, a gunman killed 26 people at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs. Within two years, Texas made it legal to carry weapons in places of worship. But after the Santa Fe High School shooting, Governor Greg Abbott did something unusual. He asked lawmakers to consider a "red flag law", which would allow authorities to take firearms away from a person courts deem dangerous. Uh, that is not something that Republicans in this state often do. Flo and Scot were also pushing for legislation in response to Santa Fe, like laws that would hold parents accountable if their guns were used by their children to harm people. They also pushed to make it harder to buy ammunition online. Our shooter, he just checked the box and said, "Yes, I'm 18," and they delivered it to his doorstep. You can't get alcohol delivered without, um, showing proof of ID or something, but he ordered ammunition. Their hope for stricter laws was in line with Texas public opinion. Polling showed only a small minority of Texans supported loosening gun laws, and just over half supported tightening them. We thought it was common sense that this would be done. They came to Flo's hospital room the week of the shooting. And we had the governor, lieutenant governor; we had congressmen, we had senators, their wives; there's chief of staff, all in her room at one time, at least 20 people, and said, "We're gonna take care of you. We promise we'll be there for you. We'll fix this." But in the end, these proposals, along with Abbot's openness to red flag laws, went nowhere. After gun rights supporters went after him⏤the gun culture is strong. But the gun lobby itself also exerts a lot of pressure on Texas politicians. There were bills that were put out there, but they never made it out of committee. Later in 2019, two shootings in west Texas just weeks apart prompted Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick to suggest another tighter gun policy, closing background check loopholes. That is a very strong comment from a lieutenant governor who is very pro-gun and who is very friendly with the NRA. But Republican leaders were saying, "We may have problems here." Democrats are pushing to take over the state house for the first time since 2003. After elections were over, with Republicans still in control, in 2021, Texas passed "constitutional carry". There would no longer be a requirement for Texans to have a license or receive any training to openly carry handguns. For me, it's very scary because if I see someone in public with a gun, I will... I will panic. Um... that's gonna send me into an anxiety attack. That constitutional carry law that, uh, the state legislature passed in 2021 had been rejected by Republican leaders. But as, uh, the Republican Party has gone further and further to the right on issues, you get a fringe of the party that is much more vocal about, uh, all kinds of issues, including gun rights. In recent years, a better organized gun control movement has seen more success with tightening laws in some states. But the movement to expand gun access isn't stopping. In 2002, fewer than half of the 50 states had 1 party in control of both the state legislature and the governor's office. Today, three-quarters of the states do. That means, in the places where Republicans or Democrats have full control, they can push through new gun laws with little chance of a veto. So, what happens, um, and you see it in state house to state house, is one state passes a law that is very successful for one side of the aisle, and then, another state house adopts a very, very similar law. Remember that constitutional carry law in Texas? Today, 24 states have similar laws on the books for that, too. And more than 400 local governments across 20 states have adopted variations on a "Second Amendment sanctuary law", meaning a city, town, or county refuses to recognize any state or federal gun laws that they believe violate the Second Amendment. These things get replicated; they get cloned, they go from state to state. And they essentially make up this patchwork of laws throughout the country. In June 2022, in the aftermath of the Uvalde shooting in Texas, President Biden signed the most significant federal gun bill in 30 years. One thing it does is incentivize states to pass red flag laws. But it can't make them do it. That power still belongs to the states. I have survivor's guilt because I'm alive, and, so, I feel like it... I have to keep speaking out; I have to do what I can. There's times when I just think I'm gonna stop. I... I'm no⏤I cannot do this for my own mental health. But we just keep... we keep going.