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Texas Gov. Greg Abbott jokes about shooting reporters after celebrating gun bill

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Gov. Greg Abbott on Friday visited a shooting range to sign a bill into law that significantly reduces the cost to get a license to carry a handgun, making Texas one of the states with the lowest fee in the nation.

“The right to bear arms is something that is synonymous with the state of Texas. We are proud to expand the right to bear arms by lowering the cost of what you have to pay in order to get a license to carry,” Abbott said. “Texans’ ability to bear arms is going to be even bolder today than it’s ever been before.”

The law, Senate Bill 16, reduces the first-time fee for a license to carry from $140 to $40 and the renewal fee from $70 to $40. A license to carry permit is valid in Texas for five years. The new fee will go into effect on Sept. 1.

Following the bill signing, Abbott tested out a few guns at an upstairs shooting range.

“I’m gonna carry this around in case I see any reporters,” Abbott joked while holding his bullet-ridden target sheet.

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The fee paid by license-to-carry holders covers the Department of Public Safety’s cost to administer the license program as well as $27 needed for county, state and federal background checks, according to the measure’s author, state Sen. Robert Nichols, R-Jacksonville.

“They’re getting these licenses from out of state because our fees are so high. So what we want to do is remove that incentive,” Nichols said when his measure passed the Senate.

“It’s unbelievable [that] Texas is one of the most costly states in the United States of America to get a license to carry,” Abbott said Friday. “No Texan should be priced out of their way to defend themselves.”

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Abbott believes Texas shouldn’t impose any fees on licenses to carry handguns, a spokeswoman said in January. In the Senate, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick granted the bill “priority” status.

The measure includes an amendment by state Rep. Jeff Leach, R-Plano, that waives the fee for peace officers to get a license to carry a gun.

Only Illinois and Arkansas now have higher fees to obtain a license to carry a handgun, Nichols said.

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Reducing the fee is expected to cost the state roughly $12.6 million in 2018.

BY ALEX SAMUELS, THE TEXAS TRIBUNE

Patrick Svitek contributed to this report.


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‘A failure in judgment by every single Republican leader’: Ex-GOP congressman scorches Trump’s racism

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On Thursday's edition of MSNBC's "All In," former Rep. David Jolly (R-FL) laid into his erstwhile party for its embrace of President Donald Trump's racial hatred and intolerance, as exemplified by the crowd of Trump rallygoers in Greenville, North Carolina chanting "Send Her Back!" of Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN).

"It was heartbreaking," said Jolly, who renounced the Republican Party and became an independent last year. "In terms of what I felt, it was heartbreak, both last night and then to see the likes of Lindsey Graham [(R-SC)] today suggest that the only problem is Omar doesn’t wear a MAGA hat. If refugees would just wear MAGA hats, they could stay. The others deserve to go."

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The racist Republican Party must be ‘utterly confronted and destroyed’: Chris Hayes

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On Thursday evening, MSNBC's Chris Hayes tore into the Republican Party for accepting and legitimizing the racism of President Donald Trump and his supporters.

"'Send Her Back.' The darkest, ugliest impulses that a political movement can cultivate on full unapologetic display," said Hayes. "That's what Donald Trump has been cultivating all along. Whether the Republican Party likes it or not, it stands for it now. Most of us across the ideological spectrum feel, viscerally, a kind of moral revulsion when we hear and see an angry mob braying 'Send Her Back' about a fellow American. But the reaction from Republicans today was basically a foregone conclusion."

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Trump ‘leads a domestic hate movement’ — and the world is watching in shock: WaPo columnist

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President Donald Trump's racism is shocking the entire globe, Washington Post columnist Greg Sargent wrote in a Thursday column.

"One of the most chilling things about President Trump’s hate-rally in North Carolina — which devolved into chants of “send her back,” directed at a nonwhite immigrant member of Congress — was the profusion of tweets about it from abroad," Sargent reported.

"As the president of the United States leads a domestic hate movement, the world is watching," he explained.

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