On Saturday, Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed two bills that legalized the carry of firearms on college campuses as well as the open carry of handguns. Fittingly, Abbott held the signing at Red’s Indoor Range in Plugerville. According to the popular gun blog The Truth About Guns, Abbott even spent some time at the range after the signing to shoot a SIG P938.
“Today I am proud to expand liberty in the Lone Star State,” said Governor Abbott in a press release. “By signing these bills into law, Texans can be assured that their Second Amendment rights will be stronger and more secure than ever before.”
The signing of House Bill 910, which allows Texans to practice licensed open carry, is a momentous victory that many gun rights advocates have been waiting for. Abbott has a history of supporting pro-gun legislation and previously promised to sign the bill if it came before him. So when HB 901 passed out of the state House and Senate late last month, the signing was a mere formality. Yet the bill only narrowly escaped a fillibuster last month after lawmakers compromised to drop a provision that barred police officers from questioning open carriers.
Not everyone is happy with the bill. Gun control activists staunchly opposed the open carry bill and pointed to a shooting in Dallas on the day of the signing as an example of gun violence in the state.
“Meanwhile, Texas Governor Greg Abbott plans to sign a bill today that will legalize the open carry of handguns: a law opposed by 75% of Texas police chiefs because it could endanger law enforcement and citizens,” stated Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.
Many gun owners were also critical of the compromises made for the bill, especially the requirement that open carriers must be licensed in the same way as those with concealed carry permits. Texas currently requires applicants to be at least 21, pass a background check, and recieve some firearm training before being allowed to carry a concealed firearm. Those restrictions have not stopped more than 850,000 people from becoming permit owners, making Texas only second to states like Florida and Pennsylvania in terms of licenses issued.
Many gun owners, such as Buck Steinke, owner of Lone Star Shooting Supply in Gainesville, said it would give state residents much needed flexibility.
“Open carry and concealed carry should both be about the ability to protect yourself and your loved ones,” Steinke told the Gainesville Daily Register. “I would rather have it and not need it than need it and not have it.”
The second bill signed on Saturday was Senate Bill 11, which allowed for licensed gun owners to carry concealed weapons on college campuses. However, college officials will still be able to designate certain areas as gun-free zones.
The open carry law will go into effect on January 1, 2016, while the campus carry law will take effect in August of the same year.
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