Texas House and Senate Republicans have approved a measure allowing handguns to be carried openly on the streets of the nation’s second most-populous state. The Republican governor, Greg Abbott, is expected to sign the Bill, thereby reversing a ban dating back to the post-Civil War era.
Gun-owners would still need a licence to carry a handgun in a visible holster.
The state known for its Wild West history and some of the US’s most relaxed gun laws has allowed concealed handguns for 20 years. Concealed handgun licence holders are even allowed to skip the metal detectors at the state capitol, as it’s presumed they’re armed.
But Texas was one of only six states with an outright ban on so-called “open carry”, and advocates have fought to be allowed to keep their guns in plain sight like the majority of the US states.
Cast as an important expansion of the Second Amendment right to bear arms in the US Constitution, it became a major issue for the state’s strong Republican majority.
Nudged by Mr Abbott’s pledge to sign “open carry” into law, Republican politicians muscled the Bill through the legislature late on Friday. The House gave final approval on a mostly party-line 102-43 vote, drawing gleeful whistles from some law-makers. A short time later, the Senate passed it 20-11, also along party lines, with all Republicans supporting it and all Democrats opposing.
Texas has about 850,000 concealed handgun licence holders, a number that has increased sharply in recent years.