Texas House approves bill making gang threats a felony

AUSTIN, Texas -- Texas lawmakers are trying to get tougher on street gangs.

A gang member who makes a threat could be charged with a felony and imprisoned for 10 years, under legislation that advanced Monday in the Texas House.

The proposal creates a new crime, intimidation by a gang member, which could include threats to inflict injuries, property damage, or physical restraint.

The bill is designed to address concerns that gang members try to coerce people through implied threats of violence.

It comes as Gov. Greg Abbott has warned of heightened gang violence in Houston.

But opponents say a threat does not warrant such harsh punishment.

The measure was approved by simple voice vote and now requires one last, largely symbolic House vote before moving to the state Senate.

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