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Texas lawmakers slip gun-safety program into spending bill

Lawmakers in gun-loving Texas have quietly gone around the National Rifle Association by slipping language into a massive spending bill that would fund a $1 million public safety campaign on gun storage.

The last-minute move late Sunday sets up a political test rarely seen in Texas for Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, who must decide whether to veto the spending or to ignore NRA opposition and approve the program.

An Abbott spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment, and the Texas Legislature adjourned Monday until 2021.

The campaign for safe home gun storage is a small item in the two-year, $250 billion state budget, and it was fiercely opposed by the NRA and gun-rights activists. The measure failed to get a vote and appeared all but dead weeks ago.

Then budget negotiators — the majority of whom are Republicans — added the funding into a budget bill. The legislation was approved Sunday night by the GOP-controlled Legislature.

“I have full confidence that the governor will look at it hard and will realize it’s all about saving lives. I hope there is no one discouraging him,” Gyl Switzer, executive director of Texas Gun Sense, said Monday.

Abbott has said he would support promoting gun safety. But he has also bowed to pressure from the NRA and gun rights advocates on issues such as stiffer penalties for negligent gun storage, as well as “red flag” laws to keep guns away from people deemed dangerous to themselves or others.

Creating a new safe storage campaign in Texas would be a rare defeat for the NRA, which has long flexed considerable muscle in a state with more than 1.3 million handgun license holders.

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