AUSTIN (KXAN) — A Senate Committee passed a bill Monday to allow the Open Carry of handguns in Texas. The 7-2 vote was in support of the House version of the bill.
Those against the bill used the Waco shootings to reinforce old stances on gun laws.
“When people recount that their personal stories, then it really hits home,” said Ed Scruggs, who testified about how his friends in Waco had to hide underneath tables and crawl to the coolers to avoid flying bullets. “What would have happened in Waco [Sunday] if you would have had 20 people in the restaurant open carrying? You just add more guns and more bullets to the crossfire, it’s ridiculous.”
Austin Assistant Police Chief Troy Gay said if more people openly carry firearms, his officers may have trouble differentiating a good guy from a criminal
“Who are our friends and who is a foe?” Gay questioned. “It just creates more challenges for law enforcement.”
“Keep in mind, in Texas, it is a crime for known people affiliated with gangs to carry a firearm at all,” said CJ Grisham from Open Carry Texas, who said the shootings in Waco shouldn’t stop open carry. “It doesn’t matter how many laws you have. All those do is prevent law abiding citizens from being able to carry.”
Grisham’s view is winning in the Capitol, and the votes appear to be lining up for open carry to become law.
A controversial part of the bill banning police officers from asking to see someone’s handgun license was taken out of the bill. A vote by the full Senate could come as soon as Thursday. After that, the differences between the House and Senate version will have to be ironed out before it is sent to the governor’s desk.
If open carry becomes law, everyone with a concealed handgun license will be grandfathered in. The state would then start issuing handgun licenses for open and concealed carry.
Texas began issuing CHL’s after a man drove his truck into a Luby’s Restaurant in Killeen. The incident in 1991 left 24 people dead, including the gunman. Lawmakers later argued having an armed person inside could have prevented the massacre.