Your daily dose of Austin
Smartphone image
Make your inbox more Austin.
Local news and fun, every day 6am.
Gun control advocates say new permitless carry law could endanger Texans, and some constitutionalists agree

Permitless carry will go into effect in Texas Sept. 1. (CC)

Just over three months after nearly two dozen gun laws were signed by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, those often controversial amendments are set to go into place today.

The session's flagship gun bill allows Texans to carry handguns without a permit effective Wednesday. Called "permitless carry" by some and "constitutional carry" by others, the law has been deemed Wild West-esque and unsafe by police organizations and some public figures but has been touted as a constitutional right by GOP lawmakers.

"You could say that I signed into law today some laws that protect gun rights," Abbott said as he signed the bill. "But today I signed documents that instilled freedom in the Lone Star State."

With the law in place, anyone 21 and older without a previous felony conviction or other legal restrictions will be able to carry a handgun. The Lone Star State, which previously required at least four hours of firearm training before receiving a permit, will join 19 other states that allow permitless carry.

Mat Unruh, owner and instructor at Liberty Hill gun and ammo store Round 2 Brass, said he knows some gun license instructors have decided not to renew their license to instruct as he and others prepare for smaller class sizes come Sept. 1.

A constitutionalist who advocates for second amendment rights, Unruh still believes that permitless carry could cause unnecessary danger for both gun owners who don't know Texas' gun laws and the general public.

"I'm a constitutionalist, but at the same time, I'm also a safety-minded person and guns require safety, they require training," Unruh said. "We need to know what we're doing and be proficient and be concise, because... when your gun comes out of your holster, your life is going to change forever."

Aside from learning to shoot a gun, Unruh said gun license training sessions are important because they teach Texans about what they can and can't do with a firearm—for instance, those without permits can't be within 1,000 feet of a school zone with a firearm, carry their firearm while out of state, or have any percentage of alcohol in their blood when carrying a gun.

"We're going to have a whole lot of people carrying firearms that maybe either don't know the law at all or think they do, which is probably more dangerous and more detrimental than actually not knowing anything," Unruh said.

The new law comes in the wake of 2019 mass shootings in El Paso and Midland, a mass shooting incident on Sixth Street in Austin and increased violent crime in the city, Texas and the nation as a whole. GOP lawmakers said they would change certain laws to promote safety, such as the lie and try bill which also goes into effect Sept. 1 that makes it a state crime to lie on a background check to obtain a firearm. But most of the 22 new gun laws going into effect Wednesday will aim to loosen gun restrictions, not tighten them.

Permitless carry does have some conditions, however:

  • The law doesn't bar certain federal protocols already in place, like background checks on certain gun sales.
  • It won't change much on private gun sales since Texas already doesn't require background checks on private purchases
  • The law increases penalties for felons caught carrying guns.
  • But it could make it harder to track felons buying guns in the first place.

Ari Frielich, state policy director for the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, said that permitless carry could drastically endanger Texas residents and even law enforcement officials.

"These lawmakers may simply prefer a society that includes zero safeguards to ensure people meet basic eligibility standards and receive basic training before they can carry weapons designed to take human life into public crowds," Freilich said. "The research is clear that flooding public spaces with more hidden loaded guns in more hands makes them less safe. It turns more arguments, road rage incidents, and fistfights into shootings, more injuries into burials, and it can create a civilian arms race in communities most impacted by violence."

Just as he hopes others will know to do, Unruh will tack on two new signs in front of his business come Sept. 1: a sign that reminds customers that the law is in effect, and a 30.05 sign, which will ban those without permits from carrying a gun in his store.

"People ask about it, which I love because it gives us an opportunity to have conversations," Unruh said. "It's not trying to restrict people's rights or anything, it's a safety thing."

Unruh hopes that business owners know to update their signage if they're uncomfortable with new gun laws. His biggest advice to constitutional carry activists, opponents and Texas residents as a whole is to stay informed, check the state's newest gun laws and continue to practice gun safety regardless of permit status.


Trip to Dallas-Fort Worth: Our 15-year-old granddaughter thinks it’s the 'cool' Texas


If you are a committed, grunge-wearing resident of the Pacific Northwest, it is easy–almost automatic–to look at Texas as an extraordinarily dry, hot and culturally oppressive place that is better to avoid, especially in the summer. Our two granddaughters live with their parents in Portland.

Recently we decided to take the older girl, who is 15, to Dallas. Setting aside the summer heat, a Portlander can adjust to the vibes of Austin without effort. So let’s take Texas with all of its excesses straight up. Dallas, here we come.

Keep ReadingShow less
Tesla is adding a 500,000-square-foot building to Giga Texas


Giga Texas, the massive Tesla factory in southeast Travis County is getting even bigger.

Keep ReadingShow less