EL PASO, TX – Texas, already one of the most lenient states in terms of gun laws, is set to abolish one of its remaining major restrictions after the Republican-led Legislature voted Monday to approve a bill that will allow people to carry handguns without licenses, background checks, or even training, reports say.
After its approval by state lawmakers, the bill was sent to Governor Greg Abbott, who has stated that he intends to sign it into law despite protests from prominent Texas law enforcement officers including Dallas Police Chief Eddie Garcia, who said that it will put both the police and the public in danger.
“This bill does not make officers more safe,” Chief Garcia said. “It makes us less safe.”
The bill is also opposed by gun control groups, who cited a 2019 mass shooting El Paso Walmart that killed 23 people, in addition to other incidents, including a Sutherland Springs church and a high school outside Houston.
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Even without the new bill, Texas had some of the most lenient gun laws in the United States; residents have been able to carry handguns since 1995, rifles can already be carried in public without a license, and over 1.6 million people currently have handgun permits.
Those in favor of the bill noted that it would do away with roadblocks that interfere with people to pursue their constitutional right to bear arms, as well as enable Texans to be able to defend themselves in public. Currently, almost two dozen states have some form of legislation on the books that allow residents to carry handguns with little-to-no regulation.
The bill, when signed into law, will enable anyone to carry a handgun as long as they are 21 years old and don’t have convictions for violent crimes on their record; however, with background checks being done away with as well, there will be no way for a gun store owner to know if the person he’s selling firearms to is a violent felon or not.
Businesses will still be able to not allow guns on their property, and some firearm purchases will still be subject to federal background checks.