As of Tuesday, Texans needed to complete training, a written exam, a proficiency test, and obtain a license to openly carry a handgun in public. As of Wednesday, they needn't do any of that. Texans aged 21 and older who are not prohibited from possessing a handgun can carry one openly in public without a permit or training, under a constitutional carry law now in effect, per KTRK. The state House of Representatives passed Bill 1927 in an 82-62 vote in June, shortly before it was signed by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott. He claimed it "instilled freedom in the Lone Star State," per CNN.
Supporters among his party similarly claimed the bill was needed to remove an "artificial barrier" to Texans' right to bear arms, to allow "the protection of themselves or their families" in public spaces, CNN reports. "If you possess a firearm, you should be able to carry a firearm,” said the bill’s sponsor, state Sen. Charles Schwertner. He said the passage represented "a restoration of the belief in and trust of our citizens." But Dallas Police Chief Eddie Garcia previously said it would make his job "more dangerous" as officers would have trouble distinguishing a "good guy with a gun from a bad guy with a gun."
"A minimum level of training is not asking too much," Garcia added in a comment echoed by others in law enforcement, many gun owners in the state, as well as gun control advocates. "Just allowing almost anyone to carry a handgun in public, no questions asked, no background check or safety training, is really dangerous," Andrew Karwoski, policy expert at Everytown for Gun Safety, tells CNN. The outlet reports gun violence incidents in Texas are already up 50% this year over the same period in 2019, while there's been a 40% increase in mass shootings this year over the same period last year.
The bill requires the Texas Department of Public Safety to create a free online course on firearm safety and handling—but people don't have to take it, reports the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. The outlet notes Texas, where citizens are already allowed to carry rifles without a license, is "now among at least 20 states that does not require a permit to carry a handgun." The law applies to residents and out-of-state visitors, who must holster visible handguns. Private businesses can block someone from carrying a gun without a license by posting at least three signs, per KXAS. (Read more Texas stories.)