By a vote of 20-11, the Texas Senate has voted to pass a bill that would allow the open carry of handguns in Texas.
During the six-hour debate, a certain aspect of the bill would see fellow party members fighting each other. Senator Don Huffines, R-Dallas, wanted to include an amendment in the bill that would prevent police officers from stopping a person simply because they were carrying a handgun in the open. This amendment had support from both parties in the Senate. Democrats who supported the open carry bill wanted to make sure that some sort of protection existed to prohibit racial profiling. Democrat Rodney Ellis of Houston commented on this topic.
“I have a long history of opposing open carry legislation and a strong record of supporting sensible reforms to reduce gun violence and keep firearms out of the hands of criminals. But if open carry is going to become law, law enforcement shouldn’t be able to circumvent constitutional rights and detain someone solely because they are open carrying in compliance with the law.”
Republicans did not speak on behalf of being anti-racial profiling. They supported this open carry amendment by saying it protected the citizens of Texas against illegal search and seizure as protected under the Fourth Amendment. Senator Joan Huffman, R-Houston, heavily opposed this amendment to the open carry law.
“This is just a backdoor to constitutional carry because really any person could just carry a gun without a license because they know the police can’t ask of them if they have a license.”
Senator Huffman was not the only Republican against this amendment. Senators Craig Estes, Donna Campbell, and Robert Nichols felt that this amendment would create confusion for police. The amendment passed and is included in the open carry bill.
The new bill has to go back to The House and be voted on there. If this version of the bill passes, Texas Governor Greg Abbott will be able to sign it into law.
Texas has some of the most relaxed open carry gun laws in the country. Handguns are the only area that would need more freedom for open carry. If this bill becomes law, Second Amendment advocates will consider it a huge victory.
What are your thoughts on the Texas open carry bill? Do you think that this bill will become law?
[Image via Texas Tribune]