House rejects Senate's open carry bill after law enforcement raises concerns

The Texas House rejects the Senate's version of a bill that would allow for the licensed open carry of handguns.

In a 63-79 vote lawmakers moved to send the bill to a conference committee in an effort to reach a compromise. Hours before the vote law enforcement groups gathered to make noise about a provision to the Senate's version of the bill. Many do not like the amendment which would prevent police from questioning someone carrying a handgun if they have no other reason to stop them.

"We are here today in unity across jurisdictions," said Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo who helped organize the press conference. Acevedo believes the amendment puts handcuffs on officers and puts their lives in danger.

"We probably have half our members that have heart burn over this and the others are for it. We're okay with the bill but the amendment is a game changer," said Kevin Lawrence who serves as the executive director of the Texas Municipal Police Association.

From the floor Friday State Senator Don Huffines, R-Dallas, answered questions about his amendment. He says if police suspect someone of suspicious behavior the amendment doesn't apply to the situation. Huffines maintains the amendment is about protecting second and fourth amendment rights.

"I can't emphasize how dangerous I think this is for our police officers," said State Senator John Whitmire, D-Houston.

"It's going to be an issue when an officer can't approach that person and ask intent. Now we understand everyone has rights we don't want to infringe," said Doug Griffith with the Houston Police Officers' Union.

"We have accepted the fact open carry is the will of the people and we are fine with it but the Huffines or Dutton amendment is not needed. We want to see it stripped from the bill," said Jackson County Sheriff Andy Louderback.

The stage is set for the bill to reach Governor Greg Abbott's desk. He has made it clear he will sign it into law. What's unclear is how soon the bill could be back on the House floor.

"We are calling for him to veto it if it stays with that provision on it," said Acevedo.