Texas Poised to Legalize Carrying of Handguns Without a Permit

Texas Poised to Legalize Carrying of Handguns Without a Permit

A bill allowing Texans to carry a handgun without a license is heading to the desk of Gov. Greg Abbott, who has promised to sign it into law.By

Claire Hansen|May 25, 2021

Texas to Legalize Permitless CarryMore

Art and Diana Ramirez of Austin with their pistols in custom-made holsters during and open carry rally at the Texas State Capitol on January 1, 2016 in Austin, Texas.Erich Schlegel/Getty Images

A measure allowing Texans to carry a firearm without a license is on the brink of becoming a law after the state Senate on Monday approved the bill, sending it to Gov. Greg Abbott, who has pledged to sign the Republican-championed legislation into law.

The bill makes legal what gun rights advocates have dubbed “constitutional carry,” or permitless carry. It would allow Texans over the age of 21 to carry a firearm without first obtaining a license as long as they are not barred by state or federal law from doing so. Under current law, Texans are generally required to have a license to carry a handgun either openly or concealed.

More than a dozen other states have similar laws on the books.

The Texas measure – House Bill 1927 – is the product of a compromise between lawmakers in the state House and Senate that was negotiated behind closed doors after the House initially rejected changes made to the bill by state senators aimed at appeasing law enforcement.

The compromise measure keeps several changes made by the Senate, including the elimination of a provision that would have barred law enforcement from questioning a person based solely on their possession of a firearm. It also keeps a Senate provision enhancing penalties for felons and domestic violence offenders who are caught with a gun.

The bill includes a police-backed provision prohibiting permitless carry for people who have committed certain misdemeanors in the last five years and requires the state to develop a free online gun-safety course.

The measure’s passage is a critical victory for conservatives and gun rights advocates who have pushed for years to enact permitless carry in the state. Democrats have balked at the legislation, voicing concerns about gun violence. Texas has endured two mass shootings in the last couple of years: a massacre at a Walmart in El Paso in 2019 that left 23 people dead and a shooting rampage just weeks later in West Texas that left seven dead.

A majority of Texans do not support permitless carry. Nearly 60% of Texans, including almost 40% of Republicans, do not believe that people should be able to carry a handgun without a license, according to a survey conducted last month by The Texas Tribune and the University of Texas.

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