It's only a matter of time before you can saunter around Dallas with a handgun gleaming on your hip. In a huge win for gun rights advocates, Texas is expected to legalize "open carry" for handguns, strengthening the state's already firm protections of the Second Amendment. The Texas state legislature is preparing for a final vote on the measure sometime next week, and Gov. Greg Abbott is expected to sign if the bill reaches his desk.
According to The Dallas Morning News, the gun rights bill has already been overwhelming approved 96-35 on a preliminary House vote. A similar bill was also approved in the state Senate last month.
Only a handful of Democratic legislators oppose the measure, which would grant gun owners the right to openly carry handguns basically everywhere except on the grounds of higher-education institutions. However, Texan legislators are also trying to pass a separate bill allowing for concealed carry on college campuses.
Texas is just one of six states that explicitly prohibits the open carry of handguns, though the state currently allows gun owners to openly carry their "long guns," such as rifles. If enacted, HB 910 would grant those with a concealed carry license to openly carry their handguns in a shoulder or belt holster in a public place. The bill would also apply all of the statues regulating concealed carry to open carry as well, essentially treating handguns in plain view the same as concealed firearms.
With such strong support in the state legislature, the open carry bill will no doubt be the law in Texas as soon as next week. A fervid support of Second Amendment rights, Abbott's website even includes a petition urging Texans to show their "right to open carry." Shortly after he was elected to the governorship last November, Abbott publicly stated that he would emphatically sign any open carry bill that hit his desk.
Despite a legislature intent on expanding Second Amendment rights in the Lone Star State, there's also been some vocal backlash among Texans who believe open carry may be too risky or harmful, as well as a burden on private businesses that cannot accommodate open carry. Angela Turner, a volunteer with the Texas chapter of Moms Demand Action, one of the group's leading the opposition, said Friday in a statement:
As a gun owning Texas mom, I am ashamed of our Texas lawmakers who voted in favor of extremist interests and petty politics instead of representing the majority of Texans who oppose the open carry of handguns.Even more concerning is our lawmakers passed HB910 without the signage amendment, making a mockery of our private property rights and now our businesses will be forced to post two large and burdensome signs to keep CHL holders from carrying openly onto their premises.
A recent poll conducted by the University of Texas at Austin in conjunction with the Texas Tribune found that only 22 percent of respondents believed licensed gun owners should be able to openly carry their hand guns. Another 45 percent of respondents said gun owners should only be allowed to have concealed carry of handguns with a license, while just 10 percent believed gun owners should be able to carry a gun in public, at any time, without a license.
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