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Texas Governor Signs Bill Allowing Permit-Free Carrying Of Firearms

Texas Governor Signs Bill Allowing Permit-Free Carrying Of Firearms

People in Texas will soon be able to carry handguns in public without a license, training, or a background check.

On Wednesday, Gov. Greg Abbott (R) signed a permitless carry bill into law, effectively eliminating some of the last remaining safeguards for those aged 21 and up to possess a lethal weapon in public; the state already allows these citizens to openly carry rifles without a license.

In addition to removing handgun permits, House Bill 1927, which takes effect on September 1, expunges previous convictions of individuals who have a misdemeanor or felony conviction for unlawfully carrying a firearm, allowing these individuals to legally own a firearm again.

People who have been convicted of a violent crime will still be prohibited from possessing a gun; however, background checks that would enforce this policy will not be imposed, as the state does not require background checks for private gun sales.

Supporters of the right to carry a gun without a permit call it "Constitutional carry," claiming that the Second Amendment's right to bear arms does not include any restrictions.

Abbott has previously referred to the bill as "the strongest Second Amendment legislation in Texas history" in his support for the right to bear arms.

At least 20 other states have similar laws in place, with Texas being the most populous.

Previously, Texans who wanted to carry a handgun had to go through firearms training, submit fingerprints for a criminal background check, and pass a written exam as well as a shooting proficiency exam.

Gun-control advocates opposed the bill, citing the state's recent history of mass shootings, including a 2019 shooting at an El Paso Walmart that killed 22 people and injured more than a dozen others; a 2019 shooting during a police chase in Odessa that killed eight people and injured 22 others; and a 2018 shooting at a Houston-area high school that killed 10 people and wounded 22 others.

According to records kept by the nonprofit research group the Gun Violence Archive, Texas has had at least 22 mass shootings this year, killing 23 people and injuring more than 90 others.

Rep. Veronica Escobar (D) was among those who criticized efforts to expand gun rights throughout the state, despite the fact that gun violence is on the rise.

“After the El Paso attack, Gov. Abbott promised to take action against gun violence,” she said on Twitter on Wednesday, “but nearly two years later, he has chosen to betray the victims of gun violence and legislators who believed him, proving he is neither a man of his word nor a courageous leader.”

Following that shooting, Abbott proposed legislative policies aimed primarily at preventing criminals from obtaining guns; however, authorities have stated that the AK-47 used in the El Paso shooting was legally obtained.

According to an April poll, the majority of Texans believe adults should not be allowed to carry handguns in public without permits or licenses, and nearly half of Texas voters said they would prefer stricter gun laws, while 30% said they would leave them alone and 20% said they would loosen them.

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