AUSTIN, Texas (CN) --- With a stroke of the pen, Governor Greg Abbott on Wednesday made Texas the 21st state to allow permitless or “constitutional” carry of a handgun in public.
The governor signed House Bill 1927 into law, lifting the state requirement for anyone carrying a handgun in public to have a license. The only requirements for someone to carry a holstered handgun in Texas is they must be 21 years of age and be eligible to legally own a firearm.
Supporters of HB 1927 see the Second Amendment as the only permit needed and any other requirements are an infringement on that right.
After the bill goes into effect on Sept. 1, Texans no longer have to undergo a training course, spend several hours at the range with an instructor and submit documentation and fingerprints to obtain a state issued license. The license to carry permit will still exist in the state of Texas and is required for Texas residents to carry in other states that offer reciprocity to out of state residents who wish to carry a firearm within the states' boundaries.
While a person will be able to carry their handgun with them permit-free, they are still subject to laws restricting the carrying of a firearm in sensitive locations such as government buildings, on public transportation, at polling places or in bars. Private businesses will still be allowed to restrict individuals' ability to carry a handgun on their property.
After being passed out of the House in March, HB 1927 faced hurdles in the Senate. This prompted Lt. Governor Dan Patrick to appoint a Senate Special Committee on Constitutional Issues. The committee, made up of five Republicans and two Democrats, was tasked with advancing permitless carry while addressing overwhelming concerns from the public.
Chair of the Constitutional Issues Committee Republican Senator Charles Schwertner said during a meeting, “Now more than ever, Texans want to make sure that their Second Amendment rights are not only protected but restored.”
Democratic Senator Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa raised concerns about how not permitless carry might complicate the work of law enforcement. Hinojosa pointed out that despite the law in Texas barring anyone under the age of 21 years old or who has been convicted of a felony from owning a gun, those individuals are still able to acquire firearms through gun shows, family members or illegal means.
Hinojosa was not alone with his objection to the bill. Permitless carry has faced apprehension from within the Republican Party in Texas every session the issue was brought up.
In past legislative sessions, permitless carry had little to no support, even among conservative Republicans like Lt. Governor Patrick. He has in the past expressed similar concerns about permitless carry and its impact on policing. While HB 1927 began gathering steam in the House, Patrick expressed doubts it would have enough support in the Senate to survive.
After it was passed in the House, the Senate made changes to the bill that were focused on addressing these concerns. One provision that has survived a conference committee is striking a provision that would have barred law enforcement from questioning someone solely on their possession of a gun.
During this legislative session, Republican lawmakers have advanced legislation that would punish Texas cities for decreasing police budgets and have, since last summer's demonstrations across the country and in Texas against police brutality and systemic racism, used “Back the Blue” rhetoric to display their support for police. However, Republicans find themselves on the other side of police when it comes to permitless carry.
Texas Municipal Police Association Executive Director Kevin Lawrence was at the capital in April with police chiefs and union leaders from across the state to voice their opposition to HB 1927.