Texas is one step closer to loosening its gun laws.
On Wednesday night, the state’s Senate approved HB 1927—a GOP-backed bill that would allow people to carry handguns in public without a permit and other requirements under the current law, CNN reports. The legislation passed 18-13 along party lines and is now headed to the Texas House, which OK’d an earlier version of the bill last month. Texas’ chambers will now have to negotiate the differences before sending it Gov. Greg Abbott’s desk for final approval; the Republican lawmaker has already indicated he will sign the bill into law as soon as it arrives.
“Once the Senate passes it out, the House and Senate will convene and work out any differences and get it to my desk,” Abbott told WBAP last week. “And I’ll be signing. I support it and I believe it should reach my desk and we should have ‘constitutional carry’ in Texas. This is something that 20 other states have adopted and it’s time for Texas to adopt it, too,”
Texas currently allows permitless carry for rifles. The newly passed Senate bill would allow anyone over 21 to carry a handgun as long as they didn’t have any violent convictions on their record. However, opponents of HB 1927 argue that removing the permit requirement would make it difficult to weed out those with violent histories, as background checks for private gun sales aren’t required under Texas law.
“HB 1927 would merely make it easier to carry a firearm legally in public, including by persons who should not,” State Sen. Judith Zaffirini (D-Laredo) said in a statement. “The licensing process allows us to ask critical questions before allowing the public carriage of a lethal weapon based on what can only be described as the mildest inconvenience.”
State Sen. Beverly Powell (D-Burleson) expressed similar concerns over the proposed bill, adding that such a change would also lead to problems for local law enforcement.
“If I sit down at a restaurant with a gentleman or a woman who has a holster on their side and a gun in it, I want to know that person is well-trained in the use of that gun, and I know that police officers across the state of Texas want to understand that,” she said. “We owe [law enforcement] every single tool in the toolbox, and a seat at our policy making table, as we make decisions like this one about public safety issues.”