Texas Gov. Greg Abbott vowed to sign legislation that would allow residents to carry handguns in public without a license, a practice sometimes referred to as “constitutional carry.”
The Republican governor weighed in for the first time on the issue on Tuesday, which has gained steam in the Texas Legislature. The proposal to allow such a practice has passed in the House earlier this month, but it does not garner enough votes in the state Senate. However, Abbott said that he would approve it if it passed.
“I support it, and I believe it should reach my desk, and we should have constitutional carry in Texas,” Abbott told North Texas radio host Rick Roberts.
A proposal for “constitutional carry” is scheduled to be considered by a newly formed Senate committee on Thursday. The committee, formed by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, is made up of five Republicans and two Democrats and will aim to study the bill and issues around the proposal further in an attempt to garner the votes needed to move the legislation along, according to NBC 5 of Dallas-Fort Worth. Patrick will also meet with law enforcement, gun rights advocates, and other lawmakers on the issue.
If approved, the bill would allow anyone over 21 who has passed a background check, and is eligible to carry a handgun, to do so without a license or training, which is required under current state law.
Constitutional carry is one of Texas Republicans’ top priorities, but it has been criticized by several members of the law enforcement community.
On Monday, Texas Republican Party Chairman Allen West said he supported the measure, urging Abbott and Patrick to make it happen.
“We don’t need to study the issue. Either they see it as a constitutional right or they don’t,” West said, according to a report by KTVT.
Dallas Police Chief Eddie Garcia said passing constitutional carry would potentially put police at risk when doing their jobs.