A new Texas state law will soon let most Texans carry handguns in public without going through training or having to get permits. Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott praised the so-called "constitutional carry" legislation and other firearms bills when he signed them into law.
Under the new law, a person can carry a handgun either concealed or carried openly in a holster, the Austin American-Statesman reported.
But some Texas law enforcement officers are concerned that removing restrictions to carrying handguns could increase crime rates while putting officers and residents in danger, according to the Texas Tribune.
"When it comes down to it, it’s just a sense of disappointment that the bill ultimately was passed," said Kevin Lawrence, executive director of the Texas Municipal Police Association.
The evidence that concealed-carry laws prevent violent crimes is limited and inconclusive, according to the nonprofit RAND Corporation, which provides research to improve policy.
Conservative activists have long advocated for a permitless carry law in Texas, but such measures did not go anywhere in the previous three legislative sessions. In 2019, a permitless carry bill didn’t even get a committee hearing in the Texas House, the Texas Tribune reported.
Advocates of permitless carry said a shakeup in House leadership and the growing number of states with similar laws meant this year was their best chance to get a bill through. The House approved the final version 82-62.
Texans now are mostly required to be licensed to carry handguns, regardless of whether they are open or concealed. To obtain a license, applicants are required to submit fingerprints, complete four to six hours of training, and pass a written exam and shooting proficiency test. This doesn’t apply to rifles, which do not require licenses to be carried in public.
The new law, set to go into effect Sept. 1, will allow anyone 21 years or older to carry a handgun in public without need for a permit or training as long as they aren’t otherwise prohibited from owning a firearm by law, such as people with felony or domestic violence convictions, the Texas Tribune reported.
Texas is not the only state to allow unlicensed carrying of guns. After Gov. Abbott signed House Bill 1927 into law effective Sept. 1, Texas bcame the 21st state to allow this.
The new law requires the Texas Department of Public Safety to post a free online course on its website that teaches proper firearm handling and safety. In addition, licensed handgun safety instructors can continue to offer their services, Caller Times reported.
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