HB 910, licensed open carry, has passed the Texas House by large margins (96-35). A near identical bill, SB 17, passed the Senate by large margins (20-10). The only real difference in the bills is an amendment added at the third read in the House, to prohibit police from stopping open carriers without any probable cause for doing so. Supporters of the bill say that the amendment is redundant and does not matter; such stops are already covered by Constitutional law, and are not allowed without probable cause. Here is the AUTHOR'S / SPONSOR'S STATEMENT OF INTENT, which explains the purpose of taking the amendment out of the bill. From state.tx.us:
While the Author's statement of intent does not become part of the law, it is germane in interpreting the law. In this case, it would be easy, because the statement of intent becomes part of the historical record in the passage of the bill, and is available for anyone to read. Any future AG will have it at their disposal, if there is ever a need to give an opinion on what the legislature intended when they passed the bill.Texas is one of only six states that do not permit their citizens to openly carry modern handguns under any circumstances. The other five states are California, Florida, Illinois, New York, and South Carolina. Forty-four states allow open carry in some form.H.B. 910 would authorize open carry of modern handguns in Texas by anyone with a license, so long as the handguns are carried in shoulder or belt holsters. The new license to carry created by this bill would replace the existing concealed handgun license. Applicants would have to meet the same requirements that they currently do to get a concealed handgun license.The committee substitute to H.B. 910 removes language from the House's engrossed version providing that the police cannot stop someone who is openly carrying and demand to see identification simply because the person is openly carrying. This language was redundant, because basic principles of constitutional law already establish that the fact that a person is engaged in an activity that is only legal with a license is not sufficient cause for the police to stop the person. All police detentions require reasonable suspicion of criminal activity at a minimum, and that will remain the case for people who openly carry in Texas after this bill becomes law.
Clearly, it does not give blanket authority to police to stop open carriers to check to see if they have a state permit.
I expect to see HB-910 before the entire Senate on Friday, the 22nd of May, but it has not yet shown up on the official schedule.
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