The Texas Senate has passed a bill to give concealed carry permit holders the option of open-carrying a handgun.
The Senate gave final approval Tuesday to a bill that would allow Texans to openly carry handguns in a shoulder or belt holster. The measure was approved on a 20-10 vote with all Republicans voting yes and all Democrats – except one who was absent – voting no.
Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston, was the only senator to speak against the legislation on Tuesday, a day after the proposal was hotly debated before it was given tentative approval. Whitmire said the bill would be a “great mistake.”
The measure by Sen. Craig Estes, R-Wichita Falls, would join Texas with most other states in authorizing open carry of handguns – as long as the person has a state handgun license. Currently, about 826,000 Texans have a concealed handgun license, nearly 3 percent of the state’s population.
Similar legislation is pending in the state House. If that bill is passed and the two bills are reconciled, the legislation will advance to the desk of Governor Greg Abbott, who has already publicly stated that he will sign the bill.
It appears that the legislation is written in such a way that open carry will become effective in 2016.
Predictably, anti-gun Democrats and gun control groups are complaining about the law, weakly attempting to push a variant of the “blood in the streets” argument. It’s really hard to have that argument to have any force, however, when Texas is one of just a handful of states where the open carry of handguns isn’t already legal.
Open carry of handguns is rarely a problem in the majority of the nation, almost never associated with actual crime.
Sadly, the bill might have already passed the Texas House and Senate if it weren’t for the behavior of just a handful of extremists from Open Carry Tarrant County, led by AK-toting problem child, Kory Watkins. Watkins has been notably silent in recent weeks after substantial criticism from gun rights activists around the nation, including other open carry supporters in Texas.
Once some form of open carry becomes law in Texas, it is expected that there will be an effort to bring Texas in line with other states that allow permitless open carry, or perhaps the “constitutional carry” of both concealed and openly-carried firearms.