The Texas House of Representatives on Monday gave its final approval to legislation that would allow licensed gun owners to carry handguns openly, striking down last-minute efforts by city voters to opt out of the policy.
House Bill 910 by Rep. Larry Phillips, R-Sherman, would allow anyone who held a valid concealed carry license to wear handguns openly on a shoulder or hip holster. Openly carrying rifles and shotguns is already legal in the state.
The bill passed on its third reading in a 101-42 vote; similar legislation has already made it past the state Senate, the Associated Press reported. Texas Governor Greg Abbott has reportedly promised to approve any pro-gun legislation that reaches his desk.
Texas Democrats had opposed the bill, and Rep. Rafael Anchia, D-Dallas, tried to soften it by adding an amendment that would allow major cities to opt out of the law. "Rural open carry is different than densely populated open carry," Anchia said, according to the Texas Tribune. "If you put this to a vote in big cities, I think people are going to say resoundingly no." A similar measure was proposed by Rep. Chris Turner, D-Grand Prairie. However, these efforts were not successful.
Phillips, the author of the bill, moved to table Anchia’s proposal. He, however, said carrying guns is a “fundamental right” that should not change depending on where one is. “The responsible gun owners of big cities are responsible just like elsewhere,” he said, the Dallas Morning News reported.
The bill also faced some concerns from state businesses, who had called on lawmakers to simplify the state’s “gunbuster” signs. The current law requires businesses to post two separate signs to ban open and concealed carry. The Texas Association of Business had called for an amendment that would allow one simplified sign to prohibit both open and concealed carry, though they said they were neutral on the issue of open carry itself.
“Rep. (Poncho) Nevárez (D-Eagle Pass) is going to offer an amendment which will allow premise owners to download one sign that would cover both open carry and concealed carry. We support that. We think the premise owners ought to have the option of just one sign," Bill Hammond, head of the Texas Association of Business, said last week, the Houston Chronicle reported. "For some reason, the NRA [National Rifle Association] opposes Rep. Nevárez's amendment and I don't see why."
Texas was one of the six states in the United States that prohibited open carry. The Texas Tribune reported earlier that the bill would make Houston and Dallas the nation’s largest metropolitan areas to allow open carry of handguns.