Texas Constitutional Carry bill: What does the new law allow?

This September a new law in Texas will come into effect, making it easier for residents to purchase and carry handguns openly without a license.

Texas Constitutional Carry bill: What does the new law allow?
Montinique Monroe AFP

On 16 June, Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed a new law that will allow Texans to carry handguns in public with no permits or training. The party-line vote, seventeen in favor, thirteen opposed, occurred on Friday 21 May and the law will go into effect this September. No public events were held on the signing and no messages have been sent over social media from the governor or top officials who supported the law.

Republicans believe these changes are necessary to ensure Texans’ constitutional right to carry a firearm. By removing licensing requirements for handguns, the lawmakers remove a barrier to an individual's ability to fulfill their constitutional right. For this reason, this law and similar ones in other states are referred to as “constitutional carry” laws

Changes to the law

The Texas Senate website provides very few details on the impact of the bill only saying that it includes provisions related to the “carrying, possessing, transporting, or storing of a firearm or other weapon.”

In its basic sense, the law changes the legal statute from saying “licensed” to “not prohibited.” This means that an individual can carry a gun publically without a license meaning they have not undergone training or fingerprinting.

Opposition to the law

Those opposed to the law point to the mass shooting that took place at a Walmart in El Paso as a reason lawmakers should be wary of removing restrictions. The suspect who killed twenty-three people, including one child, had acquired his guns legally showing that there were already holes in the purchasing system.

Democrats in the state pushed back strongly against the law. During the debate, State Senator Zaffirini affirmed the responsibility of lawmakers to uphold public safety as well as his support of the second amendment. He spoke in support of Texas law saying that the measures which mandate that those interested in carrying must “must submit an application, undergo a background check, pass a training course, and display shooting proficiency before their license to carry (LTC) permit is approved,” help “keep Texans safe.”

By removing the requirements, the Senator argued that the illegal acquisition of firearms could increase and make it more “difficult for law enforcement officers to distinguish whether a person is carrying a gun legally or illegally or is a good or a bad actor, thereby putting them and the public at greater risk.”

The new law would remove the need for fingerprints to be collected at the point of purchase or licensing. In his remarks Sen. Zaffirini, highlighted the particular risk the change to the law poses to women as “59 percent of women murdered by their partners were killed with a firearm,” and by not enforcing background checks, abusers could gain access to weapons more easily.