Texas Senate approves open carry bill, house holds hearings
AUSTIN, Texas - On a 20-10 vote down party lines the Texas Senate approves the licensed open carry of hanguns. The measure now moves to the House for considerations.
Before the vote Tuesday Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston, spoke out in opposition repeating his concerns about Sen. Craig Estes', R- Witchita Falls, open carry bill.
"I have been here long enough to know you don't win all your battles," said Whitmire.
"I stand by what I said and that's many other states have this for people who believe in their second amendment rights," said Estes. If signed into law, which Governor Greg Abbott has signaled he would do, Texas would become the 45th state to have an open carry law.
The law would allow those with a concealed handgun license the choice to openly carry their handgun in a belt or shoulder holster.
"I think with this issue of course people are divided and there was great debate," said Estes.
The debate will continue in the House where the measure is moving slower. While Senators voted members of the House listened to testimony during a committee hearing.
Rep. Allen Fletcher, R- Tomball, is a retired peace officer and filed the campus carry bill.
"This CHL campus carry will afford the people in the state the opportunity to defend themselves," said Fletcher.
Not all agencies agree. "Our stance is we are opposed to both of these bills," said Austin Police Department Assistant Chief Troy Gay.
"My son's death was preventable," said Richard Martinez who testified before the House committee. Martinez lost his son, Chris, during a shooting rampage in Isla Vista, California in 2014.
"I feel like the longer it takes us to come up with common sense solutions to gun violence more kids are going to die and that's not acceptable to me and we need to do better," said Martinez.
"Open carry and campus carry their passing isn't a foregone conclusion," said Alexandra Chase, a volunteer with Moms Demand Action.
Those who oppose the bills may be out gunned in the Senate setting up a final showdown in the House.
"With the leadership of our Lt. Governor and Governor I think we are on the fast track to get it done," said Fletcher.