Will Abbott make Texas the 21st constitutional-carry state?

Will Abbott make Texas the 21st constitutional-carry state?
(AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

The answer is yes, likely as soon as today. There isn’t much suspense to this, as Governor Greg Abbott has repeatedly pledged to sign such a bill if it ever got out of the state legislature. A 17-13 party-line vote in the state senate completed that process late yesterday, and by September Texans won’t need permission to carry their firearms in most public spaces.

Not everyone’s happy about it, of course:

A law that would allow for the permitless carry of handguns in Texas is headed to the desk of Gov. Greg Abbott, who has signaled that he’ll sign the bill into law.

The Texas Senate on Monday approved a compromise version of the the bill that allows those 21 and older who aren’t otherwise prohibited from having a gun to carry a handgun without a license. Lawmakers tasked with negotiating a version of the policy agreeable to both chambers announced the agreement Friday, and the House approved the bill late Sunday night.

“This bill is a strong #ConstitutionalCarry bill that will restore the right of law-abiding Texans to carry a handgun without a license for the defense of themselves & their loved ones,” the bill’s Senate sponsor Sen. Charles Schwertner wrote on Twitter. “Next, the Governor’s desk!”

The bill being sent to Abbott includes language that prohibits permitless carry for people convicted of certain misdemeanors in the past five years and increased penalties for felons who illegally carry a gun. It requires the Texas Department of Public Safety to develop a free online course on firearm safety and training.

Texas will continue issuing Licenses To Carry (LTCs), as those will still be required in a few public spaces, as the video above explains. For most public and commercial spaces, Texans without criminal records will be free to carry handguns either openly or concealed. Texas law already allows open carry of rifles without a license. The bill also does nothing to prohibit businesses from refusing to allow entry to those carrying firearms, which protects those private-property rights in a manner similar to that here in Minnesota.

Much has been made about the supposedly radical nature of constitutional carry, which removes requirements for training, range qualification, and state permission. However, Texas is hardly alone in this trend. For many years, progressive Vermont was the only state in the union to allow constitutional carry, but that had grown to 20 states before the Texas legislature considered this bill. Most of that wave took place within the last decade, and there hasn’t been any indication of mass increases in violent crime among those who would be eligible to carry.

Preferably, those who choose to carry will still regularly seek out the necessary training and range qualification to carry safely. The laws on use of lethal force are complicated and not at all intuitive, and effective training is quite sobering on that point especially. However, citizenship in a free society means that those responsibilities belong to the individual, as does the consequences of failing to meet them. The media will make sure we get a front seat to any of those consequences in Texas if they emerge — so mark your calendars to make sure you notice when they don’t.

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