Texas is on course to become the latest state to lift gun permitting rules after Republican lawmakers reached a deal this month.
The bill will allow people to carry handguns in public without a license or training, clearing the path for Texas to become the latest state to remove penalties for carrying a gun without a permit.
The Dallas Morning News noted the deal would keep many changes in the legislation made by the Senate intact, including tougher sentences for felons who illegally carry guns and free online gun-safety courses.
The revised version of House Bill 1927 still requires a vote in the House and Senate before it can go to Gov. Greg Abbott, who has vowed to sign it. The 2021 legislative session ends on May 31.
At present, it’s illegal to carry a handgun in Texas without a license (either intentionally or recklessly) unless the subject is in a property they own or control or in or on the way to a motor vehicle or a boat they control. Violators face a range of sanctions for this offense from a misdemeanor to a third-degree felony under the Texas Penal Code.
The permit process involves passing a background check, taking a safety course, showing proficiency in shooting the firearm, and paying a fee.
Supporters of the change in the law have issued celebratory statements, The Dallas Morning News reported.
“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,” Rep. Matt Schaefer, R-Tyler, said in a statement.
The new law would generally allow people 21 and older to carry handguns in streets and businesses, so long as they aren’t prohibited from having one.
Legislators made some changes to the law to appease police organizations that opposed the new legislation.
The bill now prohibits people from permitless carry for five years after they are convicted of misdemeanors, including making terroristic threats, assault that causes bodily injury, and disorderly conduct with a firearm.
Democrats expressed opposition to the bill. Citing mass shootings in El Paso and Midland-Odessa in 2019, they said the state should shore up laws to keep firearms away from dangerous people.
The Texas Tribune cited a report by the American Journal of Public Health that concluded permitless carry laws “are associated with significantly higher rates of total, firearm-related, and handgun-related homicide.”
If you or a family member has been accused of a firearms offense, please contact our experienced Dallas criminal defense team as soon as possible.