Open carry passes Texas legislature; Governor expected to sign into law

Texas Governor Greg Abbott

AUSTIN — The Texas House and Senate passed an open carry bill Friday that allows gun owners who obtain a license to openly carry handguns.

"Open Carry just passed in both the Texas House & Senate. Next destination: My Pen," Texas Governor Greg Abbott wrote on Twitter shortly after the bill passed.

If signed by Abbott, the law will take effect in January 2016.

The House passed the bill on a 102-42 vote and the Senate followed with a 20-11 vote to send the bill to Abbott's desk.

Applicants at least 21 years of age must pass a background check, written exam and shooting test to obtain a license.

Open carry of rifles and shotguns has long been legal in Texas without a license requirement. This bill now allows the open carrying of hanguns, but with a license.

Gun owners who choose to carry handguns concealed will still be permitted to do so as long as they have a concealed handgun license. Texas passed the concealed carry law in 1995.