Texas lawmakers pass bill allowing residents to carry handguns without a licence or background check

Governor Greg Abbott is expected to sign the legislation into law

Lauren Boebert shakes her head as Joe Biden discusses gun control measures

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Texas lawmakers have passed a bill that would allow residents to carry handguns without a licence, background check, or training – sending the legislation to Governor Greg Abbott’s desk to sign.

This measure has been long sought by conservative gun owners, despite previous objections from law enforcement and gun control groups about the risk this new legislation could pose to the public.

The Republican-run legislature approved the measure on Monday, thus sending the bill to the Republican governor’s desk for his signature.

Mr Abbott has already indicated that he would sign the bill once it reached his desk.

“We should have ‘constitutional carry’ in Texas,” Mr Abbott told North Texas radio host Rick Roberts in April.

Current law in Texas requires gun owners to be licensed to carry a handgun, both concealed and open. Applicants are also required to submit fingerprints, complete four to six hours of training, pass a written exam, and then pass a shooting proficiency test.

But Texans are already allowed to openly carry a rifle without having a licence.

The new law, if signed by Mr Abbott, would be similar to what it is for rifles by allowing gun owners to openly carry a handgun without going through the requirements of needing a licence, background check, or any other training.

Businesses would still be allowed to prevent people from carrying guns into their establishment under the new bill. Federal law requiring background checks when purchasing specific guns would also still apply despite this new legislation in Texas.

Already Texas has some of the loosest gun laws in the United States for its more than 1.6 million handgun licence holders.

But that didn’t stop gun owners from further pushing for legislation that would make owning and carrying the weapon more accessible.

“This is a simple restoration of Texans’ constitutional right under the Second Amendment, a right of the people to keep and bear arms,” the Senate sponsor, Senator Charles Schwertner, a Republican, said on Monday, the Texas Tribune reports. “I think it is a bill that is the strongest bill I’ve seen in my legislative career regarding the rights of our Second Amendment.”

The Senate made several changes to the House bill prior to its passage in order to appease some concerns from law enforcement groups. This included striking an amendment that would have barred police officers from questioning someone based solely on them possessing a handgun.

But gun control advocates have expressed concern about this bill’s passage given the rise of mass shootings in Texas in recent years, such as the El Paso Walmart shooting and the Sutherland Springs church shooting.

Representative Joe Moody, an El Paso Democrat, expressed disapproval to lawmakers over the bill after the state legislature did nothing to alter gun laws following the Walmart mass shooting, which left 23 dead and an additional 23 people injured.

“All [El Paso community members] wanted was something better. All they wanted was some accountability. Yet here we are,” Mr Moody said on Sunday, the Texas Tribune reports. “When the doors were closed, I heard lots of promises. I haven’t heard them since.”

However, proponents of the legislation have pointed out that those mass shooting did not involve handguns.

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