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Legislation allowing Texans to carry handguns after natural disasters heading to Gov. Abbott's desk

Legislation that would allow Texans to carry their guns, concealed or otherwise, for a full week after a natural disaster is headed to the governor’s desk, according to The Dallas Morning News.

Current Texas law requires anyone wishing to carry a handgun, openly or concealed, to obtain a “license to carry,” which involves passing a course, background check and shooting test as well as paying a fee.

After Hurricane Harvey in 2017, some gun owners, backed by the National Rifle Association (NRA), called for the rules to be relaxed, with the NRA saying this would allow Texans to defend themselves from looters, according to the newspaper.

The bill’s Senate sponsor, Sen. Brandon Creighton (R), initially shortened the widow to 48 hours, down from the weeklong period of the original House bill, but after a conference committee met last week to determine the bill’s final language it was restored to a week.

The bill passed the state Senate by a single vote, with three Republicans in the chamber voting against it. Sen. Joan Huffman (R) said the bill has been significantly broadened from the version debated in the Senate earlier in 2019 and that the final version could pose major problems for police in disaster areas, according to the newspaper.

"It's really, really poor public policy that is not well thought out," said Huffman, a former judge. "It is not solving a problem. It is creating a problem."

In a tweet Monday, Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo urged Gov. Greg Abbott (R) to veto the bill, writing, "We experienced one of the worst disasters in Texas history during Harvey. The World watched as we all came together. This bill wasn't needed then & isn't needed now. This will embolden 20,000+ gang members & will not help LE."

The vote came the week after the Texas House advanced a bill that would allow licensed gun owners to carry inside places of worship. The measure has already passed the state Senate. Nearly two years ago, a gunman killed nearly 30 people at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs. That bill also awaits Abbott’s signature.


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