By Travis Gumphrey
SENATE Bill 17 on open carry passed in the Texas Senate by a vote of 20-10 on Tuesday. Republican Senator Brandon Creighton from Conroe, co-author of the bill, issued the following statement regarding its passage:
“Our state is only one of six that doesn’t permit their law-abiding citizens to openly carry a handgun in public under any circumstance. We can carry long rifles and shotguns openly without a permit, yet we can’t openly carry handguns. Texans respect the Second Amendment and deserve much more than the restrictions New York, Illinois, and California hold on their citizens.”
“I’m appreciative of our deliberative floor discussion on open carry. There is a strong sentiment in the Texas Legislature, and across the state, to strengthen the Second Amendment this session and that is what we accomplished today with the passage of Senate Bill 17. Today’s vote is a victory for Texas and its law-abiding citizens.”
S.B. 17, authored by Senator Craig Estes (R-Wichita Falls), would authorize open carry of modern handguns in Texas by anyone with a license, so long as the handguns are carried in shoulder or belt holsters. Applicants would have to meet the same requirements that they currently do to obtain a concealed handgun license.
Debate about the bill and possible amendments lasted four-hours in which senators, mostly Democrat, called for more training, background checks and other licensing requirements but almost all failed.
Houston Democrat John Whitmire, chair of the Criminal Justice committee, was the most vocal in the opposition of the bill. He cited the safety of the public and police officers as a chief concern about open-carry and more guns in public.
In the forty-four states that allow some form of open carry, there are two groups: Thirty states allow open carry without a license. The remaining fourteen allow open carry by people have satisfied a licensing requirement.
Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick congratulated Senator Craig Estes and supporting senators for the final passage of SB 17.
“In the history of the Texas Senate, this is the first time an open carry bill has made it out of committee and onto the Senate floor,” Patrick said.
“The passage of (SB 17 – Estes) demonstrates that the Texas Senate is focusing on our citizens’ priorities and our right to freedom,” he said.
Not only are Texas lawmakers looking to allow open carry, they are also looking to allow concealed handguns on college campuses.