Follow CBSDFW.COM: Facebook | Twitter

AUSTIN (CBSDFW.COM/AP) — The Senate passed House Bill 910 Friday night, a major step toward allowing the licensed open carry of handguns. Republican Gov. Greg Abbott has pledged to sign the bill into law, which still needs a final vote in the House.

READ MORE: Lifelong Efforts Of Fort Worth's Opal Lee Has Juneteenth On Way To Becoming Federal Holiday

Sen. Don Huffines, the Dallas Republican who amended the bill, says it protects law-abiding gun owners from unreasonable searches by police.

Texas has allowed concealed handguns since 1995 but is one of only six states with an outright ban on open carry. Texas has banned open carry for 140 years, a prohibition dating to the post-Civil War era that disarmed former Confederate soldiers and freed slaves.

READ MORE: Texas Bill On Increased Police Accountability In Honor Of Botham Jean Signed Into Law

The state has nearly 850,000 concealed handgun license holders under a process that requires classroom and gun range training; but lawmakers have lowered those standards in recent years.

Before the open carry debate, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who presides over the Senate, said House leaders also promised to pass a bill allowing concealed handguns in college classrooms. A spokesman for House Speaker Joe Straus confirmed the campus carry bill will get a vote before the session ends June 1.

MORE NEWS: Feud Between 2 Groups Of Teens Led To Deadly Mass Shooting In Austin, Police Say

(©2015 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)