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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.

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.

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.

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