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Texas House approves open carry bill

By Marilyn Malara
Texas House approves open carry bill
Gun rights supporters attend an 'Open Carry Rally' with guns as a demonstration of their Second Amendment rights. File photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

DALLAS, April 18 (UPI) -- The overwhelmingly Republican Texas House or Representatives favored a bill Friday permitting open carry, which is to go into effect next year.

Approved on a 96-35 vote, the bill allows Texans to carry licensed handguns in unhidden holsters. Previously, only concealed handguns and pistols were allowed, with a permit, although long guns like rifles -- which do not require a license -- can be carried openly.

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"It's time to go ahead and take this next step," the bill's author, Rep. Larry Phillips, said. "It's time to join the ranks of states like Massachusetts...and allow our citizens to have this right."

Most Democrats opposed the bill, citing disapproval from Texas police officials.

"Right now, I'm doing good to send two deputies to a very dangerous situation," Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia told lawmakers in February. "Now when we get a call, shots fired or disturbance with guns involved, we typically think one person is creating chaos. Now we may have many people."

Democrats assert that citizens displaying guns outside their clothes may confuse officers in the event of a dangerous or violent situation, thus risking injury or death.

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Multiple amendments were proposed, but ultimately the GOP majority shot down Democrats' concerns. The Senate passed a similar bill in March.

Governor Greg Abbott already vowed to sign any legislation that furthers Second Amendment rights.

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