UPDATED: video of the signing ceremony:
It is now official, as of January 1st, 2016, some Texans (with state issued license) will be able to open carry for the first time in the 140 years since post-Civil War reconstruction. Some college and university students will also be able to concealed carry, with proper license, not only on campus grounds as they have been, but inside some campus buildings as well. While both of the new laws are limited and still fairly heavily restricted, it is being touted as a “step in the right direction” by most Texans.
In bigger-than-life Texan style, Governor Abbott held the signing ceremony at Red’s Indoor Range in Pflugerville, TX. He did the honors before a select group of legislators who did the heavy lifting needed to get the bill to his desk. He remarked on the genius of the Founding Fathers in crafting the Second Amendment which recognizes the right Texans and all Americans to keep and bear arms. Then, of course, after the signing, he got in some practice with a SIG P938 at the gun range as well.
The bills signed into law were, HB910 – which removes the “concealed” requirement of the previous handgun permit law and allows open carry with a permit in a hip or shoulder holster. SB11 – allows students at Public colleges and universities to carry inside campus buildings, concealed only, and campuses have the ability to designate some buildings to remain “gun free zones.” Private colleges and universities have the option to “opt out” of following the Campus Carry Law based on the protection of private property rights. Only students who have a handgun license, which you must be 21 yrs old to get, will be allowed to carry in campus buildings and open carry on campuses will still be illegal.
Open carry of long guns in Texas has always been legal and unregulated. Many of the grassroots activists that brought this issue to the forefront in Texas, through long gun open carry marches, had hoped and pushed for Constitutional Carry. Constitutional Carry bills were introduced in both the House and the Senate, but never made it out of committee or even to public hearings. Despite Constitutional Carry being added to the Republican Party of Texas platform, Republican leaders in the House and Senate quashed the Constitutional Carry bills in committee in favor of the more incremental approach through licensed open carry.
Constitutional Carry advocates vow to continue the push in future legislative sessions and continue their advocacy in the meantime. Celebrated as a victory by some, a mediocre compromise by others and vilified by gun control advocates across the board, Licensed Open Carry and Campus (concealed) Carry are now the law in Texas.