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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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The BattalionMay 4, 2024

Open Carry Bill Passes State House of Representatives

A bill passed Monday by the Texas House signified a victory for gun rights advocates throughout the state.

 Authored by Rep. Larry Phillips, the piece of legislation, House Bill 910, would allow those with concealed carry licenses to openly carry handguns in a hip or shoulder holster.

 House Democrats attempted to amend the bill to allow larger cities in Texas to opt out of the policy, such as Houston and San Antonio, but their attempts to water down the legislation were ultimately unsuccessful.

 The bill passed through the Republican-majority house with a 101-42 margin and will head to the Senate for debate in committee. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a member of both the Texas State Rifle Association and National Rifle Association, has pledged to sign into law a bill that furthers gun rights in Texas.

 Robert Spitzer, professor of political science at the State University of New York College at Cortland and author of several books on gun control policy, said this legislation reflects a trend of several states passing stronger gun rights laws after the 2012 Sandy Hook elementary school shooting in Connecticut.

 “There hasn’t been a lot happening at the national level and it’s consistent with the principle of federalism,” Spitzer said. “Oftentimes when the national government does not respond, the states do and we’ve seen that very much with the gun issue in the last couple of years. Most of the action has been at the state level and on issues such as those that are occurring in Texas right now.”

 While Republicans are concerned with upholding the Second Amendment and protecting the liberties of citizens, Spitzer said Texas democrats are mainly concerned with safety, especially in urban areas.

 “Just as you find that there’s more gun ownership in rural areas, there’s generally less crime in rural areas,” Spitzer said. “The general practice of policing is to keep civilians and discourage civilians from carrying weapons of their own, not only because of the intimidation factor but because of the possibility of accidentally harming somebody, because they may include people who intend to do bad things.”

 Amol Shalia, president of the Texas Aggie Democrats and self-proclaimed supporter of the Second Amendment, said House Bill 910 goes too far, and said there’s a large difference between arming oneself on a private ranch and openly carrying a handgun in downtown Houston.

 “If you talk to Texas law enforcement officials, they’ll tell you that it isn’t going to make their jobs any easier and make situations a lot more dangerous,” Shalia said.
The Students for Concealed Carry on Campus, or SCCC, is an organization that argues for gun rights on college campuses. Brittany Sutton, the chair of the Texas A&M chapter of SCCC, said the organization’s main concern is safety.

 “We’re working to make sure that people on campus have the peace of mind that they are able to protect themselves, even if it is never necessary to draw their firearm,” Sutton said. “Basically, if [someone] feels the need to carry a concealed weapon — with the proper documentation, of course — they should have the right to without risk of punishment.”

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