Texans will soon be able to carry handguns in public without obtaining licenses or training after the state’s Republican governor on Wednesday signed a permitless carry gun bill into law.
The measure approved by Gov. Greg Abbott allows individuals 21 and older who can legally possess firearms in the state to carry handguns in public places without permits. The legislation is set to go into effect in September.
In signing HB 1927 into law, Texas joins a handful of other conservative-led states that have passed measures this year allowing some form of permitless carry and expanded gun rights at the state level. Democrats and some law enforcement officials in the state say the bill eliminates mandatory firearms training that helps protect the public and also makes it more difficult to determine who is unlawfully carrying a weapon.
CNN has reached out to the governor’s office for comment on the legislation.
Abbott had indicated earlier this year that he would sign the bill, telling WBAP in April: “I support it and I believe it should reach my desk and we should have ‘constitutional carry’ in Texas.”
Republican supporters of the permitless carry bill, who often refer to it as “constitutional carry,” argue that by removing the licensing requirement, they are removing an artificial barrier to residents’ right to bear arms and ensuring more Texans have access to personal protection in public.
Texas already allows citizens to carry rifles openly without licenses. Under current Texas law, residents must have licenses to carry open or concealed handguns. As part of the licensing process, residents must submit a fingerprint, undergo a background check, participate in a training course and pass a shooting proficiency test.
CNN previously reported that five other states — Iowa, Tennessee, Montana, Utah and Wyoming — have passed legislation allowing some form of permitless carry this year.