AUSTIN (CBSDFW.COM) — On June 16 Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed House Bill 1927 into law. The bill eliminates the requirement for residents to get a license, undergo background checks or have training and allows anyone over 21 years old to carry a handgun.
The permitless carry law does not apply to Texans who are prohibited because of state or felony criminal convictions or some other legal prohibition in their background.
“There is a need for people to have a weapon to defend themselves in the Lone Star State,” Abbott said.
The governor signed the bill despite objections from law enforcement groups who say it will endanger the public and police. Gun control groups also oppose the measure, noting the state’s recent history of mass shootings, including those at an El Paso Walmart, a church in Sutherland Springs, and a high school outside Houston — though in each of those attacks the assailants primarily used assault-style rifles and not handguns.
Before the law was signed, Texans generally had to obtain a license to carry handguns openly or concealed. Applicants had to submit fingerprints, complete hours of training, and pass a written exam and a shooting proficiency test.
Before approving the bill, the Senate tacked on several amendments, including striking a provision that would have barred officers from questioning people based only on their possession of a handgun and enhancing criminal penalties for felons and family violence offenders caught with a handgun.
Texas currently has more than 1.6 million handgun license holders. Texas already allows rifles to be carried in public without a license. The state joins more than a dozen other conservative-led states that have passed measures allowing some form of permitless carry and expanded gun rights at the state level.
Abbott held a ceremonial signing ceremony at the Alamo in San Antonio on Thursday for the measure that Republicans call “constitutional carry” and several other gun bills. He was joined by other Texas lawmakers and representatives from the National Rifle Association.
During the press event Abbott said, “We are also prohibiting any government entity from contracting with any business that discriminates against firearm and ammunition businesses and organizations like the NRA.”
The permitless carry law will go into effect on September 1, making Texas the largest state to allow its gun owners to carry weapons in public without a license.
List of gun laws signed on Thursday, June 17: