By Brad Brooks
LUBBOCK, Texas (Reuters) – A bill that would let Texans carry concealed handguns without any permit passed the state’s legislature on Monday and headed to the desk of the governor who has promised to sign it.
When Governor Greg Abbott signs the measure into law, Texas will become the 21st state, and the most populous, in the United States to have some form of permitless concealed carry, according to the National Rifle Association.
Rep. Matt Schaefer, a Republican who authored the bill, which gun rights advocates call a “constitutional carry” law, had earlier called it the “strongest Second Amendment legislation in Texas history.”
The bill protects “the right of law-abiding Texans to carry a handgun as they exercise their God-given right to self-defense and the defense of their families,” Schaefer wrote on Twitter.
Senator Ted Cruz, a Republican representing Texas, wrote on Twitter: “This is excellent news for law abiding-Second Amendment loving Texans.”
The bill that passed includes compromises that address concerns of the law enforcement community, including getting rid of language that would have prevented a police officer from questioning a suspect based solely on the fact that they were carrying a gun.
Everytown for Gun Safety, an advocacy group that works for tougher gun regulations across the U.S., blasted the bill.
“These representatives have abandoned their oaths of office to represent our interests,” said Elizabeth Hanks, a volunteer for Moms Demand Action, the grassroots wing of Everytown, in a written statement.
“We’re putting them on notice – we’ll stop at nothing to make sure Texas voters know just how much danger these representatives have put them in,” she added.
(Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)