The Texas Senate passed a bill allowing any Texas resident who can legally own a handgun to carry it without a permit or license on Wednesday by a vote of 18-13. This comes after the Texas House recently voted for the same thing in House Bill 1927. Gov. Greg Abbott has said he will sign the bill into Texas law. Basically, the bill removes the requirement that a person obtain a license to carry a concealed handgun in order to carry a handgun openly. All other laws pertaining to who can own or buy a firearm remain the same. A license is not needed to openly carry a rifle in Texas.
Proponents of the so-called ‘constitutional carry’ have been lobbying and working to bring this type of law into Texas since 2015 when Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said at the time that he does not think there are enough votes in the Texas Legislature or enough public support to pass such a measure. The groups Gun Owners of America and Texas Gun Owners have routinely held rallies at the state capital building in Austin every year.
According to data from the ATF and gun sale records, there are an estimated 118 guns for every 100 adults in Texas, making Texas the leader in gun ownership by both total number of guns and per capita. According to FBI statistics, Texas has a considerably lower gun crime rate and death rate compared to other states, though there are differing reasons why.
Anthony McCormick of Fort Worth says, “heck yeah I support this. It’s just common sense, I mean, it takes some amount of time for police to arrive at the scene of a shooting incident or active shooter. In that time, are we support to just be sitting ducks, like shooting rubber ducks at a carnival game? No, and because even the criminals know so many people carry in Texas, they won’t try their crap as often, it makes them think twice.
According to the Texas top law enforcement agency, the Texas Rangers, 79% of all gun deaths in Texas happened with the shooter obtaining the gun illegally and was already banned from owning a firearm.
Jennifer Arroyo from San Antonio talked to us yesterday and had this to say. “I absolutely support this. I’m a single mother who works hard to support my two kids. I don’t have anyone else I can depend on for my safety if things get bad. It’s up to me to protect my family at home and while I am out and about. But with this right to carry more freely, we also need to ensure people know basic gun safety so they don’t accidentally shoot themselves or someone else.”
But not everyone likes the idea. Many law enforcement agencies came out against the idea saying it creates a more dangerous situation for them. We contacted Houston PD, Dallas PD, Austin PD, and a few other large departments who have expresses concerns but none would say how this measure would actually make the streets more dangerous. A couple departments who asked not to be named said they would see people carrying as suspect and it would automatically create a tense situation just in passing by someone with a handgun.
The Sheriff’s Association of Texas (SAT) has come out in support of the bill with a couple amendments. This include a provision that allows police to temporarily disarm someone during a stop or being detained and to temporarily strip ‘constitutional carry’ rights of those accused of certain violent crimes.