Texas to allow unlicensed handgun carry

·2-min read

Texas is poised to remove one of its last major gun restrictions after state legislators approved allowing people to carry handguns without a licence or the background check and training that go with it.

The Republican-dominated legislature approved the measure on Monday, sending it to governor Greg Abbott, who has said he will sign it despite the objections of law enforcement groups that say it would endanger the public and police.

Gun control groups also oppose the measure, noting the state's recent history of mass shootings.

Texas already has some of the loosest gun laws in the country and has more than 1.6 million handgun licence-holders.

Supporters of the bill say it would allow Texans to better defend themselves in public while abolishing unnecessary impediments to the constitutional right to bear arms.

Texas will join nearly two dozen other US states that allow some form of unregulated carry of a handgun.

The National Rifle Association was among those supporting the measure, and a spokesman called it the "most significant" gun-rights measure in the state's history.

Texas already allows rifles to be carried in public without a licence. The measure allows anyone age 21 or older to carry a handgun as long as they do not have felony criminal convictions or other legal prohibitions in their background.

But without the state background check, law enforcement groups worry there would be no way to weed them out in advance.

The bill does include stiffer penalties for felons caught illegally carrying guns.

The bill would not prevent businesses banning guns on their property, and federal background checks for some gun purchases would remain in place. Texas has no state requirements for background checks on private guns sales.

Texas has allowed people to carry handguns since 1995.

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