Calling it a salute to the “genius” of the country’s founding fathers, Gov. Greg Abbott on Saturday signed legislation allowing Texans with licenses to openly tote their handguns in a hip or shoulder holster.
The signing of the open-carry bill, House Bill 910 by state Rep. Larry Phillips, R-Sherman, came at Red’s Indoor Range, a popular gun store and shooting range in Pflugerville. Abbott said he would also sign legislation later in the day that requires the state’s public universities and colleges to allow handguns on campus buildings and in dorms.
“There is nothing more important in democracy than the voice of the people stepping up and saying ‘We expect the Constitution of the United States of America to be our guiding doctrine,’” he said.
The ceremony came on the same day Dallas police said a gunman in an armored vehicle opened fire at the police headquarters and then fled to a local restaurant, where he was shot and believed killed.
Abbott said criticism of expanded gun rights in Texas in wake of the incident was unwarranted.
“The event in Dallas was an isolated incident by someone who had serious mental challenges, as well as a possible criminal background,” he said. “It is no indication whatsoever of empowering people with their Second Amendment right. In fact, the contrary is true.”
Abbott heaped praise on the National Rifle Association and its Texas affiliate, the Texas State Rifle Association, which along with GOP lawmakers he said were instrumental in getting the bill to his desk.
“I don’t think there are any groups in this state — or in this nation — who worked as profoundly to ensure that the Constitution is lived up to,” he said.
On the so-called campus-carry bill Abbott said he would sign later, the governor pointed to other states where similar measures have passed as proof that concerns of increased violence are overblown.
“In general, what we’ve seen in the states that have campus carry, there haven’t been any problems on those campuses,” he said.
That bill, by state Sen. Brian Birdwell, R-Granbury, allows students who are 21 and older and hold a concealed handgun license to carry their firearms on public campuses. Private colleges will be allowed to opt out of the policy.
Under the final version of the bill, public universities and colleges will be able to establish rules on where handguns can be carried and how they're stored.
“I think that the way the Legislature worked this out [that] we will see that campus carry in the state of Texas will also pose no more problems,” Abbott said.