Texas police chiefs are urging Gov. Greg Abbott to veto legislation repealing certain handgun restrictions in Texas if lawmakers do not remove a controversial provision the chiefs fear would allow criminals to carry firearms without repercussions, reports the Texas Tribune.
If the provision stays on the bill, the only responsible thing for Abbott to do would be to veto it, Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo said at an impromptu news conference organized as the legislation faces what could be a final vote in the House on Wednesday. "You can't be the party of law and order and not listen to your police chiefs," he said.
At issue is language added to House Bill 910, the bill allowing licensed Texans to openly carry handguns, that limits the power of law enforcement to ask those visibly carrying to present their permits. Opponents say that provision amounts to a backdoor effort to repeal licensing requirements for handgun-toting Texans altogether.
The provision has support from some Democrats who say it would help prevent racial profiling, as well as conservatives who say it is necessary to protect Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable searches and seizures.
Flanked by about a dozen law enforcement leaders from around the state, Acevedo said Wednesday that the legislation would "handcuff" police officers, endangering both them and the communities they protect.