Legislation introduced in Texas would allow unlicensed handgun owners to carry their weapons — openly or concealed — in public for up to a week in any area where a local, state or federal disaster is declared.
House Bill 1177 by Rep. Dade Phelan, R-Beaumont, now awaits its first hearing in the Texas Senate. Phelan said he wrote the bill so gun owners don’t have to leave their firearms behind when evacuating their homes. Existing laws allow gun owners to store them in their vehicles, with some conditions, says a news report.
Phelan’s bill is sponsored by the National Rifle Association, and has 41 co-authors in the House.
Florida has had a similar law since 2015, the report says, but that law only allows unlicensed people to carry handguns in mandatory evacuation areas. Phelan’s bill originally only allowed unlicensed carry if a mandatory evacuation was declared, like the Florida law, but he amended it during the House floor debate to allow unlicensed carry in any declared disaster area, regardless of whether an evacuation is ordered.