Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) signed several pieces of legislation at the Alamo on Thursday that he says will protect the rights of gun owners in the Lone Star State.
Abbott signed seven bills into law, Senate Bills 19, 20, and 550, and House Bills 957, 1500, 1927, and 2622.
"We gather today at what is considered to be the cradle of liberty in the Lone Star State," Abbott said from Alamo Hall. "We are on hallowed ground … they fought for freedom, they fought for liberty and that included the freedom to be able to carry a weapon."
Before signing the bills into law, the governor defended the legislation by citing stories of ranchers along the border who have to "defend themselves against cartels, gangs and other very dangerous people." The governor has also announced plans to build a wall to keep people from crossing the border illegally.
"There is a need for people to have a weapon to defend themselves in the Lone Star State," Abbott said, adding that Texas will not allow the federal government to take anyone's guns.
"Number one is probably the biggest and best of them all and that is the constitutional carry right in the Lone Star State," Abbott said. Texas joined nearly two dozen other states in allowing anyone who can legally own a firearm to carry that firearm. The law goes into effect on Sept. 1, 2021.
"Next is a law that makes Texas a second amendment sanctuary state. This helps to shield Texas and Texans from overreaching federal government laws that we will not allow any Texan to enforce in the Lone Star State," Abbott said. The law regulates the enforcement of certain federal laws regulating firearms, firearm accessories, and firearm ammunition within the State of Texas. The law goes into effect on Sept. 1, 2021.
"We are also preventing any government entity from prohibiting the sale or transportation of guns or ammo during a declared disaster," Abbott said. the law essentially makes those businesses essential businesses that can not be prohibited from operating during a disaster. The law goes into effect on Sept. 1, 2021.
"And we are also prohibiting any government entity from contracting with any business that discriminates against firearm and ammunition businesses and organizations like the NRA," Abbott said. SB19 says that companies that want to enter into a contract with a governmental entity will have to provide in writing that they do not have any policies that discriminate against a firearm entity or firearm trade association and that they will not enact any such policies during the term of the contract. The law goes into effect on Sept. 1, 2021.
"Next is what I call 'holster choice.' Texas eliminated the shoulder or belt holster requirement allowing Texans to carry in whatever kind of holster they choose," Abbott said. The law goes into effect on Sept. 1, 2021.
"This next law protects travelers who are traveling through the state of Texas and it allows them to store firearms in their hotel rooms," Abbott said. The law prohibits a hotel from adopting a firearms policy prohibiting a hotel guest from carrying and storing a firearm or firearm ammunition in their hotel room. The law goes into effect on Sept. 1, 2021.
"Last but not least, we passed a law that says any firearm suppressor made in Texas and stays in Texas will not be subject to federal law or federal regulations," Abbott said. The law allows devices designed to silence or reduce the noise a gun makes when shot to go unregistered so long as the item was made in Texas, the packaging was stamped "Made in Texas" and so long as it remains in Texas and does not cross state lines. The law goes into effect on Sept. 1, 2021.
The governor was joined for the bill signing ceremony by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, Speaker Dade Phelan, Sens. Donna Campbell, Brandon Creighton, Charles Schwertner, and Drew Springer; Reps. Giovanni Capriglione, Cole Hefner, Tom Oliverson, Matt Shaefer, David Spiller, and other members of the legislature, as well as Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of the National Rifle Association.
Because the bills signed are designed to protect the rights of gun owners, LaPierre and the NRA had an interest in them becoming law. LaPierre was complementary for the work Texas legislators have done since 2015 expanding gun rights including campus carry, open carry and now constitutional carry.
"Freedoms Americans really agree on overwhelmingly are their constitutional right to own a firearm and their right to defend themselves and their families," LaPierre said. "In this increasingly dangerous world, people want to be able to protect themself. Thank God Texas is leading the way for the country in making that possible."
Not everyone supported the legislation, however. Abbott was asked about a recent mass shooting in Austin that injured 13 and killed one. The governor said he spoke with the family of the victim, who he said told him they didn't want the death of their family member to have a negative impact on gun rights or police funding.
"The last thing that everybody must understand, those who believe and support second amendment rights, we support the right of every law abiding American to be able to have a weapon to defend themselves," Abbott said. "That is different from teenagers unlawfully getting access to guns to commit crimes. Those are people who deserve to be behind bars for the rest of their lives."