On Saturday, June 13, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed HB 910 into law, allowing state residents to carry handguns openly. The state House and Senate officially passed the bill on May 29,which goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2016,
Abbott and Rep. Larry Phillips signed the bill at Red’s Indoor Range in Pflugerville. Afterward, Abbott put a magazine of 9mm rounds down range, according to this story on Breitbart.com.
“Why today is possible,” Abbott said. “is because we have legislators who stepped up, did the right thing, crafted legislation, collaborated to get the votes that were needed to expand gun rights in the state of Texas.”
Texans with concealed carry licenses will be allowed to openly carry a handgun in a holster on their belt, or in a shoulder holster, as of Jan. 1. Concealed carry has been legal in Texas since 1995, but open carry has been banned for the past 140 years as a results of a post-Civil War prohibition meant to disarm former Confederate soldiers and freed slaves.
Once the law goes into effect, there will be five remaining states with an outright ban on open carry.
An amendment that would have prevented police officers from stopping an individual openly carrying a handgun merely to check his license and carry permit was removed as it moved through the state legislature.
Gun control advocates have argued that open carry is less about personal protection than intimidation, according to this story from the local NBC affiliate.
The new law also recognized the concealed handgun licenses issued in more than 40 states, and license holders from those states will be allowed to openly carry their weapons in Texas once the law goes into effect, according to the story.
Texas currently has about 850,000 concealed handgun license holders. That number has risen sharply in recent years, as it has throughout the nation.
Later that day, Abbott also signed a bill requiring the state’s public universities and colleges to allow handguns on campus, in buildings, and in dorms.
The new law allows state residents with valid carry permits to carry concealed handguns on public college campuses. However, a caveat was added that allows colleges to designate certain “gun-free zones” on their respective campuses.
Both chambers of the Legislature had previously passed their own versions of the bill with key differences. A weekend agreement between House and Senate negotiators set up final approval, according to the story.
In order to obtain a concealed-carry license, a state resident must be at least 21, meaning most college students won’t be old enough to be licensed, regardless of the new legislation.