The Texas senate has approved in a 18–13 vote a bill to allow Texans to carry handguns without a license.
House Bill 1927 would eliminate the requirement for Texas citizens to acquire a permit to carry handguns if they’re not prohibited by state or federal law from owning a firearm.
The measure, already passed by the Texas House last week, now heads to a conference committee for the two chambers to debate amendments and settle differences until the House and Senate versions are identical. The bill will then go to Governor Greg Abbott’s desk for his final signature.
Current Texas law stipulates that Texans must be licensed to carry a handgun, whether openly or concealed. To obtain a permit, applicants must be fingerprinted, attend multiple hours of training, prove they are 21 years old, and pass a written exam and a shooting safety and proficiency test.
Supporters of the bill say its passage is long overdue, and that Texas should follow the model of several other states, such as Idaho and Arizona, to enact “constitutional carry” legislation.
“This bill, to me, is a restoration of the belief in and trust of our citizens,” said Republican state senator Charles Schwertner. “We cannot allow another session to come and go where we pay lip service for the Second Amendment by failing to fully restore and protect the rights of citizens granted by the Constitution.”
Opponents fear that revoking the licensing requirement will impede law-enforcement efforts and allow people to carry handguns without background checks and with insufficient training. Gun-control advocates have come out against the bill, citing concerns about spikes in gun violence in Texas in recent years.
“This will be the first time . . . that we will not look to training or background checks or law enforcement or the authorities to know who they are dealing with,” said Democratic state senator John Whitmire. He added that permitless carry is a “huge departure from where we’ve been before.”