A Texas House bill legalizing permitless carry of handguns in the state passed 18-12 in the Texas Senate on Wednesday.
House Bill 1927 is close to reaching Gov. Greg Abbott’s desk, who has promised to sign it into law.
The legislation will return to the state House one last time where the new senate amendments will be accepted, or lawmakers from both chambers will meet in a conference committee to arrive at a deal.
If passed into law, Texans 21 years of age or older would be able to carry a handgun without a permit unless they are prohibited by state or federal law.
Opponents of the legislation say permitless carry will lead to more violent crime, fatal cases of domestic abuse, and the stop-and-frisk-style arrests of minority Texans.
Senate Democrats offered 18 amendments to the bill which all failed alone party-line votes, including five amendments by Cesar Blanco, who represents El Paso’s senate district.
One amendment offered by Blanco would have required background checks for the private sales of firearms.
In a statement after the passage of HB 1927, Blanco said that after the mass shootings in El Paso, Odesa, and other communities, lawmakers in Texas should have focused on solutions to prevent gun violence.
“This feels personal to me because I attended nearly every funeral and memorial after the El Paso mass shooting, I mourned with those families and my community, listened to their stories, and committed to myself to solutions,” Blanco said.
“I’m disappointed that my amendments based on non-partisan recommendations from Texas Safety Action Report failed on party lines,” he said.
The Texas Safety Action Report is a 15-page report of recommendations that came about from the Texas Safety Commission, an advisory panel created by Abbott following the El Paso shooting that included law enforcement, lawmakers, gun violence victims, and advocates on both sides of the gun rights debate. One of the recommendations from the report says the legislature should consider ways to make it easier for private sellers to use background checks when selling to strangers.
If passed into law, Texas would join about 20 states that have passed similar permitless carry laws.
One study by the National Bureau of Economic Research found that states with right-to-carry laws experienced 13 to 15 percent higher aggregate violent crime rates in the decade after such laws were adopted.
A poll earlier this month from the Texas Tribune and the University of Texas found 59 percent of Texans don’t support permitless or unlicensed carry, including 85 percent of Democrats and 56 percent of Republicans.
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