AUSTIN — The Texas State legislature has passed open carry and campus carry in Texas. The Senate gave its final approval to open carry, voting 20-10 in favor for a bill that allows licensed gun permit holders to openly carry handguns. Texas currently recognizes the concealed handgun licenses issued in more than 40 states, and license holders from those states will be allowed to openly carry in Texas once it becomes law. The Senate also approved legislation requiring the state’s public universities to allow handguns in dorms, classrooms and campus buildings. The campus carry bill only allows concealed handgun license holders to carry their firearms on campus, and private universities would be allowed to opt out. Other places where concealed carry is currently not authorized remains the same.
Texas has about 850,000 concealed handgun license holders, a number that has increased sharply in recent years.
An amendment – the so-called Dutton Amendment – was removed by the Committee Conference. The amendment would have prohibited police officers from stopping someone solely because they are openly carrying a handgun. However, some legislators argued earlier this week that court rulings already prohibit such investigatory stops.
Texas’ prohibition on openly carrying handguns dates to the post-Civil War era, and was aimed at disarming former Confederate soldiers as well as freed slaves. Gun rights advocates have argued open carry is about personal protection, though anti-gun rights groups, like Moms Demand Action, have claimed open carrying of handguns is about intimidation. Prior to Texas passing this bill, open carry was already legal in 44 states where intimidation by open carriers is not an issue. OpenCarry.org lists a number of quotes from law enforcement officials that were initially skeptical about open carry in their state, but found it not to be a public safety problem.
Notwithstanding, some liberal politicians and anti-gun rights activists made hysterical statements about passing open carry in Texas. Texas State Senator Rodney Ellis (D – Houston) said he fears violence on the streets, stating “I hope we don’t have a host of Texans running around with a Rambo mentality.” Nevermind that the Texas law only allows already-licensed gun owners who have been concealed carrying in Texas for years to openly carry, or that none of the other 44 states that allow open carry have issues with open carry “Rambos”. Sandy Chasse, from the Texas chapter of Moms Demand Action, said “There is no evidence to show the open carry of handguns makes Texas safer.” Since open carry is only now set to become legal in January of 2016, there is no empirical evidence that open carry does anything one way or another, because it’s never occurred previously. We do have empirical evidence from 44 other states however that open carry hasn’t make the people in those states less safe. Further the CDC found that lawful gun carry is a deterrent to crime, reduces injury to potential victims and saves lives. All available evidence suggests that open carry in Texas will only make Texas safer. Fortunately, cooler heads have prevailed. Texas State Senator, Joan Huffman (R – Houston) said, “I think what we’re talking about here are responsible citizens who are trained who have gone through a background check and we will expect them to act responsibly.”
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has already said he will approve the open carry bill. Once the final approval from the Texas legislature was final, he tweeted the bill’s next destination is “My Pen”.
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) May 29, 2015
The full text of the open carry bill is here: