Permitless handgun law goes into effect across Texas

The law, dubbed "constitutional carry," lets Texans over the age of 21 to carry a handgun without a background check, training or license.

It's the first of September in Texas, and that means if you're 21 and older, you can openly carry a handgun.

Dubbed "constitutional carry," the new law begins today, along with a slew of hundreds of new bills signed by Gov. Greg Abbott.

With laws ranging from limitations on abortion to the teaching of critical race theory, Texas begins a new chapter in its own unique experience with representative democracy. Texas' gun and abortion laws may draw the most attention nationally, but there's a raft of others that will impact everyday life in the state.

In reality, the gun law sounds sexy to those who want to pack heat 24-7, but there's also a lengthy list of things you can't do — mostly taking handguns into schools, stadiums, private businesses, etc.

The bill also concerns law enforcement.


"I do have concerns that some people do need training on how to handle a handgun and gun safety," Kerr County Sheriff Larry Leitha said in an email. "I do see some issues on places that people can carry and where they can't carry. There are locations that people with a license can carry but people without a license can't carry."

The basics of the bill are you don't need a license, permit or any training, as Leitha noted. Law enforcement agencies argued the training was essential to ensuring safe practices.

"I see some possible use of force issues, when can you shoot and when you can't use deadly force. All of this is taught in the license to carry class," Leitha said.

Through a strict interpretation of the Second Amendment, including glossing over the well-regulated militia clause, the bill authors, including co-author Rep. Andrew Murr, who represents Kerr County, claim the bill will make Texas safer.

In polling leading up to Gov. Greg Abbott signing the bill, Texans were opposed to stripping out background checks and training, but this was a key priority to Texas Republicans and Abbott.


The so-called fetal heartbeat bill directly challenges the U.S. Supreme Court's 1973 decision that legalized abortion across the U.S. — Roe v. Wade. In this bill, a detection of a fetal heartbeat — something that happens within six weeks.

And the law states: "A physician may not knowingly perform or induce an abortion on a pregnant woman if the physician detected a fetal heartbeat for the unborn child as required by Section 171.203 or failed to perform a test to detect a fetal heartbeat."

The bill, which got a co-authorship from Sen. Dawn Buckingham, who represents Kerr County, adds civil penalties to those who "perform or induce" an abortion or even paying the costs of abortion. That has set up watchdog groups who have created tip lines to report violations.

The bill allows someone filing a complaint $10,000 in statutory damages if a court case is decided in their favor.


This law, Senate Bill 4, co-authored by Sen. Dawn Buckingham, states any professional sports team with a government contract — say advertising — must play the National Anthem before a game. There's teeth in this one, and here's what it says: "Immediately subjects the team to any penalty the agreement authorizes for default, which may include requiring the team to repay any money paid to the team by this state or any governmental entity or classifying the team as ineligible to receive further money under the agreement; and may subject the team to debarment from contracting with this state."


Senate Bill 13 will divest Texas from companies that boycott oil or natural gas companies. In turn, Texas' various public employee retirement funds and the permanent school fund will not invest in companies that say no to oil and gas. Just how many companies are engaged in that effort remains a bit unclear, but there has been plenty of movement among investment funds to divest.

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