Gun owners in Texas will now be able to carry their firearms publicly without having a permit or even undergoing training. This comes after Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas signed House Bill 1927 into law on Wednesday. The law allows all Texans above the age of 21 owning a firearm to carry it openly in public. However, those who have been convicted of a felony and those who are legally prohibited from owning a firearm will not enjoy the same freedom.
The bill was sponsored by Republican state Sen. Charles Schwertner and approved by the House of Representatives by an 82-62 vote in June. Although Democrats mounted strong opposition to the bill, they were lacking in numbers.
“This bill, to me, is a restoration of the belief in and trust of our citizens,” said state Sen. Charles Schwertner, “If you possess a firearm, you should be able to carry a firearm.”
Before the law was passed, Texans could only carry handguns in public if they were licensed and had training. They also had to take a written and proficiency exam and pass it.
The news of the law comes at a time when the number of shootings has been on the rise in Texas and other pro-gun states. According to data provided by Gun Violence Archive (GVA), the number of shootings in Texas excluding suicides was 14% higher in 2021 from 2020. In the period under review, 3,200 shootings were recorded, compared to 2,800 shootings in 2020.
Gun safety experts have warned against the idea of legalizing the open use of firearms. Law enforcers have also been strongly opposed to the idea of allowing the public to carry guns without proper screening. Andrew Karwoski, a gun safety expert at Everytown for Gun Safety, has strongly criticized the move.
“Just allowing almost anyone to carry a handgun in public, no questions asked, no background check or safety training, is really dangerous,” said Andrew Karwoski
Law enforcers drawn from different departments in Texas condemned the signing of the new law. They argue that it makes their job more difficult and dangerous. Garcia, the Dallas police chief said in a press conference that firearm owners should have basic training, in line with the Second Amendment.
“A minimum level of training is not asking too much for carrying a firearm and it is consistent with the Second Amendment,” Garcia said “It makes our job, the job of our men and women, more dangerous,” he added.