Abbott-O-Meter

Legalize openly carrying handguns in public

"I will sign whichever open carry bill withstands the legislative process and makes it to my desk."


Updates

Abbott fulfills promise to support law permitting handguns to be openly carried

Greg Abbott vowed to sign into law any proposal making it legal in Texas to openly carry a handgun in public.

And so he did in 2015 after lawmakers tangled over police officers possibly being barred from approaching a gun-carrying resident simply to ask if he or she also had a state handgun license.

Stumping for governor

At a Corpus Christi stop in 2013, then-candidate Abbott made it clear he would be fine with Texas lawmakers letting Texans openly carry handguns in public.

In his Feb. 17, 2015, State of the State address, Gov. Abbott reaffirmed as much, saying: "I will expand liberty in Texas by signing a law that makes Texas the 45th state to allow open carry."

The week before, a Texas Senate panel voted 7-2 to move such a proposal toward consideration by the 31-member Senate. Along the same lines, the Senate State Affairs Committee also sent the Senate a proposal to permit openly carried handguns on college campuses.

House proposal becomes law

On April 20, 2015, Texas House members responded by voting 101-42 to approve that body's version of the open-carry measure, House Bill 910, authored by Rep. Larry Phillips, R-Sherman. As a result, nearly 826,000 Texans holding concealed-handgun licenses would be permitted to openly carry a weapon in a shoulder or belt holster. At the time, we rated this Abbott Promise IN THE WORKS.

House members also added an amendment to bar police from stopping or detaining people with a holstered handgun solely to determine if they have the required concealed-handgun license. Police representatives including Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo objected, saying the limit would handcuff police in dealing with potentially dangerous situations.

In May 2015, a Senate panel moved to remove the limit on police from the House-adopted measure. But members of the Senate added a similar restriction to the legislation, handing the result back to the House. Sen. Don Huffines, R-Austin, said of the restriction: 'This clarifies the fact that you cannot stop and question someone solely because they are openly carrying. If there is a reasonable suspicion that a crime is involved or is about to be committed … (police) can stop and ask you for your license."

Issue over? It was not. Texas House members resisted the limit many had originally agreed to put in place. Ultimately, a House-Senate conference committee took the limit out of the open-carry proposal. And on May 29, 2015, just before the 140-day session ended June 1, the House and Senate each signed off on the compromise, sending it toward Abbott, who quickly commented in a tweet: "Open Carry just passed in both the Texas House & Senate. Next destination: My Pen."

On June 13, Abbott signed HB 910 into law. Under its provisions, a holder of what's to be renamed a Texas handgun license (no longer a concealed-handgun license) may openly carry a gun starting in 2016.

We're marking this an Abbott PROMISE KEPT.


Promise Kept — Promises earn this rating when the original promise is mostly or completely fulfilled.

Our March 3, 2015 UPDATE:

At a Corpus Christi stop in 2013, then-candidate Greg Abbott made it clear he would be fine with Texas lawmakers letting Texans openly carry handguns in public.

In his Feb. 17, 2015, State of the State address, Gov. Abbott reaffirmed as much, saying: "I will expand liberty in Texas by signing a law that makes Texas the 45th state to allow Open Carry."

The week before, a Texas Senate panel voted 7-2 to move such a proposal toward consideration by the 31-member Senate. Along the same lines, the Senate State Affairs Committee also sent the Senate a proposal to permit openly carried handguns on college campuses.

Reacting to the votes, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said: "We are now one step closer to passing these two historic bills out of the Senate."

On April 20, 2015, Texas House members responded by approving that body's version of the open-carry meaure, House Bill 910, by 101-42.

That action cleared the way for the House and Senate to reach a compromise well before the session's end in June 2015.

Sources:

News story, "Gubernatorial candidate Abbott calls for greater privacy protections, legalizing open carry," the Associated Press, Nov. 14, 2013

Document, "Bicentennial Blueprint, Greg Abbott's Working Texans Plan," Oct. 28, 2013

News stories, "Texas House endorses open carry," Austin American-Statesman, posted online April 20, 2015; "Open-carry bill sent to Senate floor," Statesman, posted online May 18, 2015; "Open carry bill passes Senate after intense debate over police stops," Statesman, posted online May 22, 2015; "Police-stop amendment pulled from open carry bill," Statesman, posted online May 28, 2015; "Open carry gun bill sent to a welcoming Abbott," Statesman, posted online May 29, 2015

Texas legislation, House Bill 910, 2015 legislative session, Texas Legislative Council (accessed July 6, 2015)