Lawmakers in Texas have approved a bill that would allow citizens to openly carry their firearms for a full week after a natural disaster, according to CNN.
The bill will now head to Governor Greg Abbott to sign and he has already signaled that he will do so.
In the bill’s summary (HB 1177) it says that Texas gun owners don’t want to be “forced to leave handguns behind in vehicles or homes, where they could be at risk from looters.”
The National Rifle Association was particularly happy with the fact that the bill would grant immunity for Texas gun owners who have their guns with them in their vehicles as they flee disaster areas.
As per CNN:
In the floor debate, Creighton said that following Hurricane Harvey, Gov. Abbott issued evacuation orders for effected areas on August 23, 2017, and that “mandatory and voluntary evacuations were ongoing through the 28th of August.” He said that lawmakers felt a full week was necessary for gun-owners to evacuate a disaster area and to find a safe place to stay.
He added that the bill doesn’t require relief shelters to admit those carrying handguns, and shelters in the state can make their own rules around guns, including “checking them and storing them,” when people take refuge.
The debate raged most about the time frame. The Texas Senate wanted far less time than a week.
When the Senate passed its earlier version, the time period had been narrowed to two days.
But the Texas House wasn’t ready to go that low and put its full, one-week time frame right back in. After some debate, the Texas Senate finally fell in line and approved the bill.
Three Sen. Republicans opposed the final language and their bid to join the Democrats on the issue were not enough to scuttle the bill.
Once Abbott signs it into law, it will take effect on September 1, 2019.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.