Texas swims against the gun regulation tide, as a bill that allows Texans to bear handguns without a permit, training, or background check was approved on Monday, the Texas Tribune reports.
The Republican-driven move comes at a time when calls for increased gun regulation are growing after each gun-related incident in the country. Nevertheless, according to Senator Charles Schwertner, “This is a simple restoration of Texans’ constitutional right under the Second Amendment, a right of the people to keep and bear arms.”
The bill (HB 1927) is receiving heavy criticism by outspoken anti-gun advocates, but this isn’t expected to affect the outcome, as Governor Greg Abbott has stated his intention to sign it.
According to the bill, anyone over 21 will be free to own a firearm, except those prohibited by state or federal law. Businesses will also have the jurisdiction to ban firearms on their properties.
How Do Texans Feel About It?
It seems that the majority of Texans don’t agree with the latest legislation. A recent University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll showed that upon asking, “Should adults be allowed to carry handguns in public without licenses or permits?”, 59% of the respondents were against it, 34% answered affirmatively, and 6% had no opinion on the matter.
During the last decade, Texas has been affected by 7 mass shooting incidents, and multiple gun laws have been passed during that period. Some examples are: prohibiting employees to keep guns in their vehicles while at work, creating a school marshal program by allowing armed school employees, allowing gun owners to openly carry their gun if they use a hip or shoulder holster, campus carry laws, etc.
However, this is the first gun legislation passed since the tragic El Paso Walmart and Midland-Odessa shootings of 2019. Proponents of tighter gun regulation have been expecting tighter control over gun ownership after these events, but are left disappointed.
In the words of Democratic State Representative Chris Turner, “This is our first session since those tragedies, and this is our response: A bill to allow permitless carry. A bill to say you don’t have to have any training to carry a handgun in the state of Texas. And I can’t imagine a worse slap in the face to all those people who have advocated, to the victims and to the family of those victims.”
Does Texas Stand Alone in This?
Once the bill is signed, Texas won’t be the first state with such legislature, but it will be the one with the largest population. There are currently 20 US states with “constitutional carry” gun laws that require no permit or license to legally carry a handgun. Some examples are Arizona, Kansas, Mississippi, South Dakota, and Utah.
On the other hand, many states such as Florida and Pennsylvania require all applicants at licensed gun stores to go through a thorough criminal background check before being approved. The reason these states are adamant about their approval process is due to indications that background checks may prevent gun violence.
Nowadays, background checks are easy to conduct, as many websites are offering the service, but it’s criminal background checks specifically that are used in gun regulation. Level 1 criminal background checks can be conducted online, but Level 2 checks may also include a national fingerprint-based check.