Two laws that would considerably expand gun rights in Texas were on their way to Gov. Greg Abbott’s desk for his signature after making their way through the state legislature. Under the proposed legislation, gun owners in the state who have current concealed carrying licenses would be able to prominently display their firearms in public as they go about their day-to-day business. In some cases, they may even be able to do so on college campuses.
The broader open carry law was passed at the end of May. The campus carry law passed in late May, but was recently consolidated between the state House and Senate. Abbott is expected to sign the bills Saturday.
After the two legislatures voted along party lines to approve the measures, Abbott sent a message that made no mystery of how he felt about the laws. “Open Carry just passed in both the Texas House & Senate. Next destination: My Pen," he tweeted.
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) May 29, 2015
Current law allows for the open carry of so-called long guns, such as rifles, but not handguns. The law would go into effect Jan. 1, which would provide a longer period of time between the passage of the bill and its implementation so state law enforcement would have the chance to be properly trained and prepared for the new regulations.
The laws were considered top priorities for gun rights advocates in the state. Many universities in Texas were opposed to the college campus law. College presidents still will have the ability to designate gun-free zones, but can’t do so for whole campuses. In Texas, the legal age to get a gun permit is 21, so any students under that age would be restricted from carrying handguns to class. Student body leaders have urged Abbott not to sign the campus bill. Representatives of at least 13 universities sent letters over the last two weeks to urge him to keep guns from campuses.
Abbott recently stated that he is “proud to say that Texas is going to be … one of the states that does have campus carry.”
Texas is the second most populous state in the country and is generally known for its relaxed gun laws. Handguns are seven times more likely to be used in a violent crime than others.