Texas is in the news this week following a Supreme Court victory for its ban on most abortions in the state.
Less attention has been paid to an important new pro-gun rights law that has also been implemented, enacting so-called constitutional carry protections to most citizens. As of Wednesday, law-abiding Texans can now carry a handgun — openly or concealed — without first obtaining a state permit.
“We built a barrier around gun rights”
The bill represents a step beyond existing laws that allowed citizens to carry rifles and shotguns without a permit. It was passed by the legislature earlier this year and signed into law by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott in June to go into effect on Sept. 1.
During a signing ceremony, Abbott denounced politicians at every level of government who “have threatened to take guns from law-abiding citizens,” vowing that it would not happen under his watch.
“Texas will always be the leader in defending the Second Amendment, which is why we built a barrier around gun rights this session,” the governor added.
He proceeded to reference seven pro-gun bills he would be signing that day, including statewide protection from federal gun control laws and relaxed restrictions on certain gun-related accessories.
“Texas remains a bastion of freedom,” Abbott said at the time.
“Instilled freedom in the Lone Star State”
Reports have detailed the backlash by anti-gun groups and even some law enforcement organizations who opposed the new law, but other states have implemented similar constitutional carry protections without an associated spike in gun violence.
Prior to the enactment of the new law, Texans who wished to carry a handgun openly or concealed were required to submit their fingerprints to state officials, undergo up to six hours of training, and pass a shooting proficiency test — including a written exam — in order to obtain a permit.
Now, the only requirements are that a citizen is 21 years of age or older and not otherwise prohibited from possessing a firearm.
At the signing ceremony in June, Abbott said: “You could say that I signed into law today some laws that protect gun rights. But today, I signed documents that instilled freedom in the Lone Star State.”
According to the U.S. Concealed Carry Association, Texas is now the 21st state to have enacted some form of the protection of permitless carry. Other recent additions to the list are Iowa, Montana, Tennessee, Utah, and Wyoming.