Texas Open Carry Bill Approved by State Legislature
Update, May 30, 2015:
An open carry bill was approved by the Texas Legislature on Friday, and the measure now heads to Gov. Greg Abbott's desk for his signature.
Texas is one of few states where open carry is prohibited, but the bill approved by state lawmakers on Friday would change that. License holders would be allowed to openly carry in a hip or shoulder holster.
Right now, Texans can only carry concealed handguns.
The bill had stalled temporarily because of language added a week ago that would have prevented police from asking someone who's openly carrying a weapon to show his or her license. Some Democrats supported that amendment to reduce racial profiling, they said, but ultimately it passed without that provision.
On Friday afternoon, Gov. Abbott tweeted: "Open carry just passed in both the Texas House and Senate. Next destination: My pen." The bill would take effect in January 2016.
Original story, May 27, 2015:
Law enforcement groups from across the state got what they wanted, temporarily. They were against language added to a bill (House Bill 910) from State. Rep. Larry Phillips (R-Sherman) that would allow licensed gun owners to openly carry handguns, but a controversial amendment would keep officers from asking someone who’s openly carrying to show their license.
The amendment was added by the Senate last week.
Supporters of the amendment say it would prevent police from racially profiling people who do choose to open carry. One of those supporters is State Rep. Harold Dutton, a Houston Democrat.
"You’re gonna have more interaction between the police and black guys and brown guys and poor people in neighborhoods that don’t have the kind of luxury that some of us have in the neighborhoods we live in," Dutton said on the House floor Wednesday.
Law enforcement groups from across the state, however, spoke against the amendment at the Capitol Wednesday, too. They said they would have no way to ensure that someone visibly carrying a gun is licensed to do so.
"If it doesn’t get removed, you can bet that we’re gonna continue to make some noise, because we really believe it remains the only responsible thing to do would be for the governor to veto," said Austin Police Department Chief Art Acevedo, representing the Texas Police Chiefs Association.
In the end, the House didn’t concur with the Senate amendment. Instead the House lawmakers voted to send the bill to a conference committee to find a compromise. Each chamber will have to vote again on a final version.
However, the conference committee has until Saturday at midnight to come to an agreement and produce a conference report. Otherwise, the bill will die before the end of the session on June 1.