Texans will soon be able to legally carry concealed firearms without having to obtain a special permit.
On Thursday, Republican Governor Greg Abbott signed House Bill 1927 allowing adults over 21 years of age to carry without a permit. His signature makes Texas the 21st state to adopt the policy. It also makes Texas the largest to go permitless.
“Politicians from the federal level to the local level have threatened to take guns from law-abiding citizens — but we will not let that happen in Texas,” Abbott. said during the bill signing. “Texas will always be the leader in defending the Second Amendment, which is why we built a barrier around gun rights this session.
The law is a major win for gun-rights groups, including the National Rifle Association (NRA), which has spent years lobbying Texas lawmakers to adopt the policy. Permitless carry has taken hold in 19 states over just the past 11 years, an expansion faster than any other major gun policy. However, Texas could also represent the zenith of permitless carry’s popularity, since it has been adopted almost exclusively in states where Republicans control the state legislature and hold the governorship, and there are few such states left without permitless carry.
Gun-rights proponents are thrilled by the move. Brandon Combs, president of the Firearms Policy Coalition, called the law “a historic achievement and landmark victory” in a statement. He said it was part of a “nationwide movement towards restoring the full right to keep and bear arms” and his group would continue to push for other states to adopt permitless carry. The NRA said Texas was right to remove the permit requirement it views as unnecessary.
“There is no reason a law-abiding person should have to seek government permission to carry a handgun for self-defense,” Jason Ouimet, executive director of NRA’s lobbying arm, said in a statement. “Passage of this measure demonstrates Texas’ commitment to restoring and protecting our Second Amendment freedoms.”
“This victory especially belongs to the dedicated and tireless grassroots activists on the ground who poured their time and energy into this effort,” said Rocco Praglowski, the group’s director of advocacy.
The law will allow any Texan over the age of 21 to legally carry a gun, so long as they are legally allowed to possess that gun. Convicted felons, those who have been involuntarily committed to a mental institution, those convicted of misdemeanor domestic abuse, and other people prohibited from owning guns under federal law will still be barred from carrying guns under the Texas law.
But gun-control groups said Abbott signing the bill is a mistake, saying they plan to use support for the law against Republicans in future elections.
“Signing this bill confirms that Governor Abbott is full of empty promises,” Molly Bursey, a volunteer leader with the Texas chapter of Moms Demand Action, said in a statement from Everytown for Gun Safety. “He promised to do something about gun violence after the mass shootings in El Paso and Midland-Odessa, but he just signed a bill that will make gun violence worse by letting people carry guns in public with no background check and no safety training. He promised to back law enforcement, but he turned his back on them instead, ignoring their opposition to this bill. We won’t let Texas voters forget that their lawmakers chose gun extremists over public safety.”
Many Texas Democrats also opposed the reform by citing concerns about rising violence—some more reasonable than others.
“Roll on into any place you want and buy a gun under this provision and walk around in whatever way you want, no training, no understanding, Wild West pimp-style,” state representative Ann Johnson (D.) said on the statehouse floor to denounce permitless carry, a comment that has been widely mocked by gun-rights proponents. “That pimp can roll into whatever small business is in your community with their stable of girls and they can flaunt it. And if you don’t have the courage to stand up and say, ‘Mr. Pimp with your stable of girls, I really don’t want you in here in my business in this manner.’ If you don’t want to confront them, you got to call the police and say, ‘Guess what’s going on in here.’”
The law will go into effect on Sep. 1, 2021.
Update 9:55 pm 6/17/2021: This piece has been updated to include comments from Governor Abbott and the NRA.