The Texas House approved a bill Monday that allows handgun owners to carry their concealed firearms without a license for up to 48 hours while under an evacuation order during a natural disaster.

The bill will allow Texans complying with an evacuation order to take their guns with them and temporarily carry them without a license so long as they’re not prohibited by state or federal law from possessing a gun.

“House Bill 1177 protects individuals from being charged with the unlawful carrying of a handgun while evacuating from an area during a state of disaster,” said Representative Dade Phelan. “Or while returning to that area by means other than their personal vehicles or watercraft.”

A similar situation to the tornadoes that ripped through the city of Alto, Caddo Mounds, and San Augustine more than a month ago. Leaving behind destruction, uninhabitable homes, and some people vulnerable when it comes to protecting what they have left. 

“What if something happened and the man or woman did not have the chance to get a license to carry three days before or a month before the disaster happens, so they want to protect themselves, want to protect others, and they want to protect their family of course,” said Jordan Revels, with Superior Outfitters in Tyler.  

The bill is backed by five of East Texas lawmakers; Jay Dean, Cole Hefner, Trent Ashby, Chris Paddie, and Matt Schaefer.

It allows any person, not prohibited by state or federal law, from possessing a firearm, the right to carry a handgun, while evacuating an area subject to a mandatory evacuation. During a declared State of Disaster for up to seven days or more, depending on how long the State of Emergency is in effect.

The bill is on its way to Governor Greg Abbott for his signature.

Lawmakers hope the bill will give homeowners the ability to protect themselves, their property, and their firearms from looters.