Obstructionist anti-gun Democrats failed in their attempts to block two major gun law reform bills in Texas as the legislative session wound down over the weekend, and now both bills will be heading to Governor Greg Abbot’s desk for his signature.
Opponents attempted to stop an attempt to bring Texas’ antiquated open carry laws in line with the rest of the country with unpalatable “poison pill” amendments. 45 states presently allow some form of handgun open carry, while Texas was mired in policies passed during Reconstruction in the wake of the U.S. Civil War.
In the end, Republicans stripped away all the clutter and passed a relatively clean open carry bill Friday night.
Texas lawmakers approved the licensed open carry of handguns Friday. The bill is now on its way to Gov. Greg Abbott, who has made clear his intention to sign it.
Open Carry Texas has been pushing for the new law and gun rights in general. Several of its members were walking the streets of downtown San Antonio Sunday, rifles in tow, to celebrate Friday’s bill passing and promote further gun rights legislation.
“What we would like is a constitutional carry, where you don’t need a license to carry a firearm,” said John Valchar, with Open Carry Texas.
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) May 29, 2015
The open carry bill passed will require open carriers to have a valid concealed carry permit. The ultimate goal of groups like Open Carry Texas is so-called “constitutional carry,” which is the option to carry a handgun openly or concealed without a permit.
The more contentious gun rights bill this session was a campus carry bill to expand where concealed carry permit holders could carry concealed firearms at public universities. The legislation was opposed by a small but fierce opposition group primarily made up of university administrators, faculty, and staff, along with campus law enforcement. Their opposition was swept aside yesterday.
Legislation requiring the state’s public universities to allow handguns in dorms, classrooms and campus buildings is now one step away from becoming law.
After final approval from the Texas House Sunday, Senate Bill 11 now heads to Gov. Greg Abbott, who has said he will sign the measure. The state Senate approved the bill Saturday.
It took about an hour Sunday for the chamber to pass the controversial measure — over the passionate pleas of several Democrats who rose to speak against it — on a 98-to-47 vote.
The campus carry bill was able to pass due in part by some last minute negotiations to allow public universities some very limited capability to ban firearms in some sensitive areas of campus with approval. Another sticking point that was dropped was an amendment that would have forced private colleges to also allow concealed carry, a move that rankled supporters of private property rights.
It is not yet know when the governor will sign these bills into law.