Gov. Abbott signs 'constitutional carry' bill allowing Texans to carry handguns without a permit


Gov. Abbott signs 'constitutional carry' bill allowing Texans to carry handguns without a permit
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Gov. Greg Abbott holds up the target he had just fired at Friday after signing a bill that will reduce the cost of gun licenses. Surrounded by reporters and cameras, Abbott then joked, "I’m going to carry this around in case I see any reporters." The media there laughed but when it went out on social media, there was immediate adverse reaction.

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Gov. Abbott signs 'constitutional carry' bill allowing Texans to carry handguns without a permit
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Texas Gov. Greg Abbott displays his marksmenship at Red's Indoor Range in Pfulgerville, Texas, Saturday, June 13, 2015. Abbott stopped at the gun range to sign into law bills letting Texans carry concealed handguns on college campuses and openly carry them virtually everywhere else. (Ralph Barrera/Austin American-Statesman via AP) AUSTIN CHRONICLE OUT, COMMUNITY IMPACT OUT, INTERNET AND TV MUST CREDIT PHOTOGRAPHER AND STATESMAN.COM, MAGS OUT

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Gov. Greg Abbott has signed Texas’ “constitutional carry” legislation, allowing Texans over age 21 to openly carry handguns in public without a license starting Sept. 1.

The law, a huge win for guns rights advocates, was one of the most controversial measures passed this session. Bill supporters said the legislation would simply restore Second Amendment rights to law-abiding Texans, while critics have said the move will only lead to more gun violence.

Abbott signed the legislation Wednesday afternoon without immediate comment, per the state’s online bill tracker. His office sent out a media advisory shortly afterward, saying the governor would hold a ceremony in San Antonio on Thursday to sign off on several bills related to gun rights, including permitless carry.

The law will remove the state’s $40 fee to obtain a handgun license, and will also take away training requirements. While gun advocates say they aren’t against safety courses, they assert the training should be voluntary.

Texans are still forbidden from carrying guns in schools, hospitals, amusement parks and some other public places. Private businesses can still prohibit their customers from bringing guns inside.

The measure, House Bill 1927, did not pass the Legislature without fanfare. At one point in March, it appeared all but dead after Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, the leader of the Senate, said the upper chamber didn’t have the votes to pass it. The bill had faced opposition not only from gun reform advocates and Democrats, but also from law enforcement officers who said the legislation would make their jobs more difficult.

Support changed steadily over the next few weeks, as legislators tacked on amendments to allay law enforcement concerns. House and Senate officials met behind closed doors in May to hash out a final version of the bill, which allows officers to disarm a person at any time for the officer’s safety and toughens penalties for felons and domestic violence offenders caught carrying a gun.

“By working together, the House & Senate will send Gov. Abbott the strongest Second Amendment legislation in Texas history and protect 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,” state Rep. Matt Schaefer, R-Tyler, tweeted last month.

At least 20 other states have a variation of the permitless carry law.

Still, opponents have denounced the measure as bad policy that will make it easier for criminals to obtain guns. Democrats have said the law is especially offensive because lawmakers did not approve any gun control legislation this session in response to the mass shooting in El Paso in August 2019.

“The public was not asking for this and voters overwhelmingly oppose the measure,” said Ed Espinoza, the executive director of the left-wing nonprofit Progress Texas. “It is now easier to get a gun than it is to vote or get allergy medicine in Texas.”

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