Senate approves open carry bill

Brett Donohoe

The Texas Senate on Friday approved a bill allowing the open carry of firearms by licensed owners.

Although the House approved its version of the legislation last month, the bill still needs to go to a final vote in the House before being sent to Gov. Greg Abbott for signing. Abbott said he would sign any version of an open carry bill that comes to his desk.

The bill was passed in the Senate after much argument over a controversial amendment that would prohibit police officers from asking for the concealed handgun license of those openly carrying firearms. The bill passed with the amendment included.

Supporters of the amendment said it will prevent police from profiling and harassing minorities.

"If somebody is going to be profiled for walking around the streets of Houston or Austin with a gun, someone who looks like me is more likely to get stopped," Sen. Rodney Ellis (D-Houston) said, according to ABC 13.  

“[This] is the most egregious mistake I have ever seen us [the Texas Legislature] make,” Rep. Eric Johnson (D-Dallas) posted on Facebook, in reference to the amendment.

Sen. John Whitmire (D-Houston) argued that the amendment would, in practice, equate to the unrestricted open carrying of firearms by anybody, regardless of whether that person has the proper license, which advocates call constitutional carry.

"This is nothing but a backhanded way to accomplish constitutional carry," Whitmire said. "We are really, really playing with a dangerous matter. It's not something that we can afford to be wrong about."

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick praised the Senate for passing the open carry bill.

"With time running out on this legislative session, the Senate has once again stood up for the Second Amendment to ensure law-abiding licensed Texans have the right to open carry," Patrick said.

House Speaker Joe Straus said the bill for open carry on college campuses will be put to a vote before the legislative session ends June 1.