Texas is set to become the largest state in the United States to permit its citizens to carry handguns openly, a move long sought by gun-rights activists.
The Texas House of Representatives on Friday voted 96-35 to give its residents the permission to openly carry their guns in public in holsters with concealed-handgun licenses. The same measure was passed the Texas Senate a month ago; the two open-carry laws must merge before being delivered to Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, who has shown support for the measure.
Even if it is permissive on firearms, Texas is one of six states, including New York, California and Florida, that currently bars citizens from carrying handguns openly. People who want to have handguns on their person in public must get concealed-weapons permits and keep the weapons out of sight.
Texas currently permits citizens to carry long guns in public. This situation has prompted gun-rights groups to carry assault rifles into stores and restaurants and also along the sidewalks near the Texas Capitol, to prove what they understand from this meaningless legal distinction.
The pressure by gun enthusiasts, a powerful group within the Texas Republican Party, has offered support for legislation to circulate through the GOP-controlled Legislature recently after a few years of stalled efforts.
Gun-rights groups are also requesting laws to allow some students and university officials to carry hidden handguns on college campuses. The Texas Senate last month gave the green light to one such campus-carry measure. The Texas House is believed to approve a companion measure, and the plan is also favored in principle by Mr. Abbott.
It would turn Texas into one of only eight states with laws allowing concealed guns on college campuses, and the largest state to have this legislation.
“We are seeing historic progress in Texas,” said Terry Holcomb Sr., executive director of gun-rights group Texas Carry. He mentioned that open-carry legislation expects Texas legislative committee ruling in the next months.
Open carry, which would be permitted from 2016, would also force the change of other state gun rules. Since the new law is connected to the concealed handgun licensing project, those rules would also apply to openly carried handguns.
Approximately 841,500 Texans currently posses a concealed handgun license. That’s almost 5 percent of Texans who are 21 or older, which the youngest age to get such a license for people from Texas who are current or former members of the armed services.
Image Source: Alt Market