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Texas passes permitless gun carry, sends bill to Gov. Abbott who is ready to sign

Open carry at a Free State Project meeting in Lancaster, NH, in 2009. (Lucio Eastman/WikiCommons)
May 24, 2021

The Texas legislature passed a “Constitutional carry” bill Monday that would allow eligible residents over age 21 to carry a firearm, either openly or concealed, without needing a permit. The legislation now heads to Gov. Greg Abbott, who has said he will sign the bill.

Shortly after midnight on Monday, the House approved the measure, HB 1927, in an 82-62 vote. The Senate approved it late Monday afternoon in a 17-13 vote.

The bill will now head to Abbott’s desk, and he has previously said he’s ready to sign it.

“Once the Senate passes it out, the House and Senate will convene and work out any differences and get it to my desk,” Abbott told WBAP’s Rick Roberts in April. “And I’ll be signing it.”

“This is something that 20 other states have adopted and it’s time for Texas to adopt it, too,” Abbott added.

The passage comes after lawmakers in the House and Senate reached a compromise after the Senate made changes to the original legislation that were not agreeable to the House. 

According to the Houston Chronicle, Senate amendments included measures to increase penalties for felons who carry firearms, and the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Matt Schaefer (R-Tyler), reportedly fought to keep a provision in the bill that expunges people’s past convictions for carrying a firearm without a permit.

“The House and Senate conferees have reached an agreement on House Bill 1927, a critical benchmark before this bill reaches Gov. Abbott’s desk,” Schaefer told the Fort Worth Star Telegram.

“By working together, the House and Senate will send Gov. Abbott the strongest Second Amendment legislation in Texas history, and protect the right of law-abiding Texans to carry a handgun as they exercise their God-given right to self-defense and the defense of their families.”

State Rep. Chris Turner (D-Grand Prairie) criticized the legislation, calling it a “slap in the face…to all those people who have asked us, pleaded and begged, that we finally do something about the epidemic of gun violence.”

According to the United States Concealed Carry Association (USCCA), 20 other states already have some form of permitless carry legislation. Texas would be the 21st and largest state to pass such legislation.

The legislations comes as federal firearm background checks continue to climb in 2021, nearing 16 million in the first fourth months alone and marking a 30 percent increase from the same period last year. The increase in background checks suggests the United States is on track for another record year of gun sales.

FBI statistics show that 4,317,804 background checks were conducted in January, 3,442,777 in February, 4,691,738 in March, and 3,514,070 in April — totaling 15,966,389 in the first four months of 2021.