The Slatest

New Texas “Unlicensed Carry” Gun Law Lets Just About Anyone Carry a Gun

A woman explains handgun merchandise to a customer during the 2021 Conservative Political Action Conference CPAC in Dallas, Texas.
A woman explains handgun merchandise to a customer during the 2021 Conservative Political Action Conference CPAC in Dallas, Texas. Brandon Bell/Getty Images

Buried in the 600-law data dump in the state of Texas this week is the fact that now just about anyone in the state can carry a gun—with no need for a pesky permit or training of any kind. The law itself was passed in May and signed in June by the state’s White House-eyeing Republican Governor Greg Abbott. The law, pushed through over Democratic objections in the state’s Republican-tilted legislature, put an end to pretty basic safety measures. Before Wednesday, Texans needed to have four-to-six hours of training, pass a written exam, as well as a shooting proficiency test in order to carry a handgun in public. Now, all you have to be is 21 years old and not be a terrorist or have a criminal record laced with felony, assault, or domestic violence convictions.

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The unlicensed carry law is not popular with voters in Texas with nearly 60 percent disapproving of it in April, shortly before its passage. Letting just about anyone tote a gun around is also, surprise-surprise, unpopular with local police. Dallas Police Chief Eddie Garcia pointed out the painfully obvious to CNN, explaining that “people open carrying firearms have made it harder for officers to differentiate a ‘good guy with a gun from a bad guy with a gun.’” “I don’t know what it’s a solution to,” James McLaughlin, executive director of the Texas Police Chiefs Association told the Texas Tribune. “I don’t know what the problem was to start with.”

Republican gun activists identified the problem as making sure someone knew how to use a gun before carrying it, decrying permits an “artificial barrier” to accessing one’s gun rights. Put another way, it was a question of sweet, sweet freedom to scare the absolute bejesus out of anyone you well please. “You could say that I signed into law today some laws that protect gun rights,” Gov. Abbott said at the bill’s signing in June. “But today, I signed documents that instilled freedom in the Lone Star State.”

Several other freedom-by-gun measures were enacted Wednesday, the Texas Tribune notes, including “a bill that would bar government contracts with those who discriminate against the firearm industry as a whole, one that would remove firearm suppressors from the state’s list of prohibited weapons, and a House bill that prohibits state and local governments from enforcing new federal gun regulations.”

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