Texas is a step closer to allowing residents to carry handguns in public without obtaining a license or training.
The Texas legislature on Monday approved the final version of a permitless carry gun bill, sending the legislation to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s desk for his signature.
House Bill 1927 would allow individuals 21 and older who can legally possess a firearm in the state to carry a handgun in public places without a permit.
Texas joins a handful of other conservative-led states that have passed measures this year allowing some form of permitless carry and expanded gun rights at the state level, as President Joe Biden took action to institute some limited gun restrictions and is calling on Congress to do more in the wake of high-profile mass shootings.
Once signed, the bill will go into effect in September and Texas, which has a strong gun culture, would be by far the largest state to allow its gun owners to carry weapons in public without a license.
Abbott, a Republican, has already indicated he would sign the bill once it made it through the legislature.
“I’ll be signing it,” he said in a radio interview on WBAP last month. “I support it and I believe it should reach my desk and we should have ‘constitutional carry’ in Texas.”
CNN reached out to Abbott’s office for comment Monday night.
The bill passed the state’s legislative chambers earlier this month but was sent to a conference committee to work out differences in changes made by each side. The committee reached an agreement on the bill Friday. The Texas Senate on Monday approved the bill, after the Texas House passed it on Sunday.
Texas already allows citizens to carry rifles openly without a license. Under current Texas law, residents must have a license to carry an open or concealed handgun. As part of the licensing process, residents must submit a fingerprint, undergo a background check, participate in a training course and pass a shooting proficiency test.
The bill passed Monday would require the Texas Department of Public Safety to post a free online course on firearm safety and handling on its website.
Republican supporters of the permitless carry bill, who often refer to it as “constitutional carry,” argue that by removing the licensing requirement, they are removing an artificial barrier to residents’ right to bear arms and ensuring more Texans have access to personal protection in public.
Democrats and some law enforcement officials, however, say the bill eliminates mandatory firearms training that helps protect the public and also makes it more difficult to determine who is unlawfully carrying a weapon.
So far this year, five other states — Iowa, Tennessee, Montana, Utah and Wyoming — have passed legislation allowing some form of permitless carry. Nineteen states allow permitless carry or have laws set to go into effect in the coming months, Cassandra Crifasi, the deputy director for the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Violence Prevention and Policy, previously told CNN.