Texas gun laws: What’s required for a license to carry a handgun?
The Texas Senate is weighing ending the need for a license to carry a handgun. What does exactly does it require?
Nate Chute, Wochit
Gov. Greg Abbott signed a bill Wednesday to allow holstered handguns to be carried in Texas without a permit, delivering a victory for gun advocates and the conservative wing of the party.
Beginning Sept. 1, House Bill 1927 will allow anyone 21 years old or older who can legally possess a firearm in Texas to carry a handgun in public without a permit. Current state law allows residents 21 or older to carry a handgun only after completing the required training and criminal background check to obtain a license to carry.
Abbott will hold a bill signing ceremony at the Alamo in San Antonio on Thursday for the permitless carry measure and several other gun bills. He’s expected to be joined by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, House Speaker Dade Phelan, Republican lawmakers and National Rifle Association representatives.
The House and Senate sent the measure to Abbott last month after reaching a compromise that addressed some concerns from law enforcement.
The final version created stiffer penalties for illegal weapons carried by felons and those convicted of family violence offenses.
The bill also allows those previously convicted of unlawfully carrying a handgun in a public place to have the conviction expunged from their record, and provides a limited affirmative defense for those who mistakenly bring their handgun to certain prohibited places.
The bill directs the Texas Department of Public Safety to create a free, online gun safety course, but training is no longer required to carry a handgun. Businesses can prohibit guns by posting a sign.
Democrats and gun control activists have denounced permitless carry, which they say would increase gun violence in Texas and make it easier for criminals to obtain a gun. Texas Democrats also have expressed frustration that the Legislature failed to pass bipartisan gun control measures in the aftermath of multiple mass shootings in the state.
Progress Texas executive director Ed Espinoza said Wednesday that Abbott and Republicans are out of touch with voters.
New handgun law in Texas: The law explained and what you need to know about the changes
“In passing permitless carry, Republicans are saying that you no longer need a license to carry a gun, but you still need one to vote,” Espinoza said in a statement. “The public was not asking for this and voters overwhelmingly oppose the measure, but right wing legislators forced it through anyway.”
Most Texans oppose removing the requirement to obtain a state permit to carry a handgun, according to a recent poll from the University of Texas and Texas Tribune. Fifty-nine percent of Texans object to the idea, with 56% of Republicans supporting the measure, the survey found.
Another poll from UT/Texas Tribune found that 57% of Texans strongly support background checks on all gun purchases.
Republicans, who call the bill “constitutional carry,” argue that the measure puts Texas in line with at least 20 other states where handguns can be carried without a permit and appropriately expands gun rights under the Second Amendment.
Rep. Matt Schaefer, a Tyler Republican and author of the bill, praised the compromise reached between members of the House and Senate, which was sent to Abbott last month.
“Ultimately, we came out with a bill that is strong, and no doubt is the strongest restoration of Second Amendment rights that any of us have ever seen in the history of the state of Texas,” Schaefer said.