Texas Poised to Allow People to Carry Handguns Without Licenses
It’s about to get even easier to carry a handgun in Texas. On Monday, state lawmakers approved a new measure to allow people to carry handguns without a license—or the background check and training that go along with the licensing process, CBS News reported. The measure now heads to Texas Governor Greg Abbott, who said he will sign it, over the objections of law enforcement and gun control groups.
Current state law requires Texans to have a license to carry handguns—whether openly or concealed, according to the Texas Tribune. License applicants must submit fingerprints, complete four to six hours of training, and pass a written exam and a shooting proficiency test. Texas does not require a license to carry a rifle in public.
Texan gun control laws were already some of the loosest in the United States, and there are more than 1.6 million handgun license holders in Texas.
Texas lawmakers are poised to allow most adults over the age of 21 to openly carry a handgun without a permit. Gov. Greg Abbott, who said he would sign the bill, called it “the strongest Second Amendment legislation in Texas history.” https://t.co/HyiHhC7UjS— The New York Times (@nytimes) May 25, 2021
The new law will allow almost anyone over the age of 21 to carry a handgun, according to The New York Times. Under the new law, handguns must remain holstered, but they no longer have to be kept in a belt or shoulder harness. Anyone with a criminal history that federally bars them from carrying a weapon would be similarly restricted in Texas, and the measure requires the Texas Department of Public Safety to offer a free online course on gun safety.
Supporters of the bill say it will enable Texans to better defend themselves in public while abolishing impediments to the constitutional right to bear arms. Nearly two dozen U.S. states also allow some form of unregulated carry of a handgun.
Numerous senior law enforcement officers warned that removing restrictions on handguns—especially training requirements—would impede police’s efforts to address gun violence in the state. According to the Times, murders spiked in major Texas cities in 2020, including 397 deaths in Houston, compared to 289 in 2019. There have also been mass shootings in Texas recently, including a shooting at an El Paso Walmart in 2019 that left 23 people dead. Democratic lawmakers warned that the new law could extend the possibility for mass violence in Texas.
Gun sales spiked across the United States in 2020, alarming public safety and security professionals. By September 2020, the FBI conducted more than 28 million background checks on would-be gun buyers; 15.1 million weapons were sold in the United States in the first nine months of the year.
According to an article from the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) shared by Security Management, an employer might face a substantial liability claim if it knows someone is bringing a gun to the workplace and has a history of mental instability or of brandishing weapons, and rapidly expanded gun sales make those risks increasingly possible.
The COVID-19 pandemic, economic instability, and protests against racial injustice have fueled gun buying. And some experts are concerned it could result in gun violence in the workplace. https://t.co/eYz8scpKPs— Security Management (@SecMgmtMag) December 11, 2020
Correction: An earlier version of this article stated that the legislative change would make purchasing a handgun easier instead of just removing licensing requirements to carry a handgun.