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Government/Politics

Tweaked Open Carry Bill Passes Senate Panel, But Value Questioned At State Capitol

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Ryan E. Poppe
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Stalled gun legislation at the Texas State Capitol is back on the move. On Monday, a Senate committee passed key legislation endorsed by the governor in the wake of gang shooting in Waco.

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Credit Ryan E. Poppe
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Austin Asst. Police Chief Troy Gay

  Assistant Austin Police Chief Troy Gay said that for officers heading into a gun battle like the one between rival motorcycle gangs at the Twin Peaks restaurant in Waco on Sunday, knowing who was actually permitted to carry a gun would be vitally important. “Officers responded very quickly but open carry, potentially, could have caused more confusion for officers responding to this type of situation,” Gay said. 

The Executive Director of Texas Gun Sense, Jonathan Panzer, was also concerned about a last-minute provision that would make it illegal for officers to question a gun owner about openly carrying in public. “That is quite possibly the worst amendment we could think of because basically people don’t have to get a license, they don’t have to get a background check. You can literally be 18 years old, be schizophrenic and get a weapon, which unfortunately happened somewhat recently,” Panzer said.

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Credit Ryan E. Poppe
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HB 910's senate sponsor Wichita Falls Republican Craig Estes

  The senate sponsor of the bill Wichita Falls Republican Craig Estes agreed, he asked the committee to remove the anti-racial profiling language from the bill.

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Credit Ryan E. Poppe
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CJ Grisham, executive director of Open Carry Texas

  But despite that tension, CJ Grisham, with Open Carry Texas, was confident that the bill would finally make it to Governor Greg Abbott’s desk. “It would be political suicide for the leaders of both chambers not to pass open carry this year. However if we didn’t get it through the legislature, I’ve been very positive that the governor would call a special session to take care of open carry once and for all, and if he didn’t it would be political suicide for him,” Grisham said confidently.

In his State of State address, Abbott stressed the passage of open carry legislation, but has not indicated if it would be important enough to call lawmakers back for a special session. When asked if having an open carry law would have changed the outcome in Waco, Abbott said one thing was for sure, the current concealed carry laws were not enough to stop the shootout.  

The bill still needs to make it past the full state Senate before it heads to the governor’s desk.