The Lone Star State will be packing heat starting in 2016 as open carry legislation passed easily in the state legislature and GOP Gov. Greg Abbott is itching to sign the bill into law.
In a tweet immediately after the bill's passage, Gov. Greg Abbott promised to sign it into law as soon as possible: "Next destination. My pen."
The House gave final approval to the bill by a vote of 102-43; in the Senate it passed 20-11 along party lines.
The law will not include a provision barring police from stopping or detaining someone solely for openly carrying a handgun. That amendment was adopted in both the House and the Senate, but lawmakers agreed to strip it after opposition from law enforcement groups.
Bill sponsor Craig Estes, R-Wichita Falls, said he was happy with the overall outcome and lauded Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick for pushing a vote on the issue before the last weekend of the session, which ends June 1.
"I don't think that we could have accomplished this without the wisdom and guidance of the lieutenant governor," Estes said ater the bill's passage. He said Patrick made sure the measure got a vote Friday instead of Saturday, when Estes was afraid opponents might be able to kill the bill through a days-long filibuster.
"We think Texas as being a gun happy state," said House sponsor Larry Phillips, R-Sherman, "but we denied citizens the right that most other states afforded them. And so this was the time to do it."
Why, I'm sure open carry will fix a lot of problems in the state. Also was nice of them to actually allow cops to maybe ask questions about the heavily armed folks running around next year, and how they might be a public safety issue. Here's the best part:
Under the new law, those with non-Texas concealed handgun licenses recognized by the state will also be allowed to open carry. Texas recognizes the licenses and permits from 41 other states. In Texas, licensees must be at least 21 and must pass a background check and written and range test.
Have a handgun license in another state that doesn't have open carry? C'mon down to Texas and strap it on. Re-live the glory days of the Wild West, Sam Houston and the Alamo.