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Government/Politics

Texas Senate Sends Open Carry Of Handguns To The House

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Ryan E. Poppe
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On Tuesday, the Texas Senate voted 20-10 to put the final seal of approval on the licensed open carry of handguns in the state from their end, and sent the measure to the House for their approval.

On Monday, in the first of what was probably the first of several possible measures on gun legislation from this group of lawmakers, the Republican majority in the Senate had pushed through the preliminary vote.

The 20-11 vote along party lines on Monday had made this final vote a formality.

If it gets through the Texas House, and is signed into law by Gov. Greg Abbott, as expected, the other four of the country’s five most populated states with Texas — California, Florida, New York, and Illinois — and that unexpected holdout, South Carolina, will be the only states in the U.S. that do not allow any form of open carry.

An expected vote in the Senate today on allowing gun owners with a concealed carry permit to carry their guns on college campuses was pushed back to Wednesday.

Prior to the vote on Monday, state Democrats attempted to change the bill with amendments that ranged from requiring anyone requesting an open carry license use a holster with a retention lock, to requiring real-time background checks, but neither suggestion was adopted. Things got very heated when Houston’s Democratic veteran, Sen. John Whitmire, offered an amendment that would have exempted the State Capitol complex from an open carry law, it was also not adopted by the author of the bill, Wichita Falls Republican Sen. Craig Estes.

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Credit Marjorie Kamys
Houston Democrat Sen. John Whitmire

“It’s going to be some unexpected distrusted person that sees an open carry [opportunity] in a crowded environment; in the cafeteria, in the elevators, in the halls. And I pray that I’m wrong, but unfortunately, it’s not if it’s going to happen but when it’s going to happen. And you have open carry where someone can grab that pistol, and in a split second you can lose 20, 30 perhaps hundreds of children. And you know it and you’re making a huge mistake,” an angry Whitmire shouted at Estes.

Estes’ point was simple: “I think that we’ve got about 800,000 licensees, concealed licensees in this state that feel like they have been vetted, have been trained and can be trusted to decide what’s best for them on whether to carry concealed or open. The question we need to ask is not, ‘should we permit them to do this,’ but rather,’ why are we forbidding them from doing this?’”

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Credit Ryan E. Poppe
Sen. Craig Estes, R-Wichita Falls.

If the bill passes open carry gun owners will still have to be licensed concealed-carry gun owners that have gone through all the classroom requirements and other required background checks.

They will also have to “holster” their weapons if not concealed, i.e., carry their guns in a shoulder or belt holster. Business owners will have the right to refuse to allow guns on their properties.   Students and faculty on a college campus would also not be allowed to openly holster their handguns on a college campus because of an agreed upon amendment between Estes and the author of a college campus gun bill, Sen. Brian Birdwell, R-Grandbury.