Texas Legislature OKs|Open Carry for Handguns

     AUSTIN, Texas (CN) – Despite opposition from some big city police chiefs, the Texas Legislature approved a bill that will allow Texans with concealed weapons permits to openly carry holstered handguns.
     The state House on Monday approved House Bill 910 on its third reading Monday.
     The state Senate approved a similar bill on March 17.
     HB 910, by Rep. Larry Phillips, R-Sherman, sailed through the House on a 101-42 vote.
     Gov. Greg Abbott has said he will sign the bill, once the two houses reconcile the versions.
     Two Democratic House members, Rafael Anchia of Dallas and Chris Turner of Arlington, introduced separate amendments that would have allowed cities with large populations to adopt ordinances to opt out of open carry. Both failed.
     An amendment that did survive was said to have been added to prevent racial profiling by police. The section, “Certain Investigatory Stops and Inquiries Prohibited,” states in part: “A peace officer may not make an investigatory stop or other temporary detention to inquire as to whether a person possesses a handgun license solely because the person is carrying a partially or wholly visible handgun carried in a shoulder or belt holster.”
     That amendment was written by Rep. Harold Dutton, D-Houston, a criminal defense attorney.
     Many Democrats oppose open carry, as do some police officials in the state’s big cities. Dutton said his amendment is meant to address the issue of how to discern a gun-toting criminal from a law-abiding citizen during a traffic stop, and to prevent racial profiling.
     Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo denounced the law, calling it “Open season for armed criminals and extremists.”
     Acevedo said: “By prohibiting law enforcement from stopping or detaining to check for CHL (Concealed Handgun License), Texas is authorizing within our state lines any and all criminals to carry a firearm. My heart goes out to domestic violence victims and the victims of violent crimes in our state. Through this amendment we are facilitating the victimization of the people we are sworn to serve, protect and lead.”
     Texas is one of six states in the country that ban open carrying of handguns. When Abbott signs the law, it will become the largest state to allow citizens to openly carry handguns. Texans are already able to openly carry a rifle or shotgun.

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