Governor Greg Abbott signed into law Wednesday a bill that allows Texans to carry firearms in public without a permit, the latest in a series of measures expanding gun rights in conservative US states.
The law, which was passed in the Republican-dominated state Senate and House of Representatives last month, will allow anyone 21 years or older who is not barred from possessing a firearm to carry one in public without a permit.
HB1927 argues that both the United States and Texas constitutions allow citizens to bear arms and that therefore there should be fewer barriers to being able to carry such weapons.
Proponents of the law, which will go into effect September 1, call such a measure constitutional carry.
Abbott is set to preside over a ceremonial signing of the law on Thursday morning, according to the Texas Tribune newspaper.
Abbott previously indicated he would sign the bill if it passed the state’s legislative houses.
“This is something that 20 other states have adopted and it’s time for Texas to adopt it, too,” Abbott told local talk radio station WBAP in April.
But opponents, including state and national Democrats, say more lenient rules on guns could lead to more violence.
They cited mass shootings in the state’s capital Austin last week that left one person dead and 13 injured and a 2019 gun massacre at a Walmart in El Paso in which 23 people were killed and 23 others injured.
US Representative from Texas Veronica Escobar said in a tweet Wednesday that by signing the bill Abbott “has chosen to betray the victims of gun violence.”
“Despite overwhelming support for gun violence prevention legislation, Republicans, led by a cowardly governor, are more interested in groveling for the gun lobby’s attention than they are in preventing gun violence and honoring victims and survivors in El Paso and across Texas,” she tweeted.
State Representative Vikki Goodwin had asked Abbott on Monday to veto the bill after the shooting in Austin.
“We cannot ignore the pattern of gun violence that we have seen again and again...We must intervene to break this cycle,” she said in a statement, arguing that gun laws “impose boundaries, create order and set a tone” in addressing gun violence.