Texas approves constitutional carry, allowing residents to carry firearms without a permit


Eleanor Dearman

Fort Worth Star-Telegram

A law that would allow for the permitless carry of handguns in Texas is headed to the desk of Gov. Greg Abbott, who has signaled that he’ll sign the bill into law.

The Texas Senate on Monday approved a compromise version of the the bill that allows those 21 and older who aren’t otherwise prohibited from having a gun to carry a handgun without a license on a 17-13 vote. Lawmakers tasked with negotiating a version of the policy agreeable to both chambers announced the agreement Friday, and the House approved the bill late Sunday night.

“This bill is a strong #ConstitutionalCarry bill that will restore the right of law-abiding Texans to carry a handgun without a license for the defense of themselves & their loved ones,” the bill’s Senate sponsor Sen. Charles Schwertner wrote on Twitter. “Next, the Governor’s desk!”

The bill being sent to Abbott includes language that prohibits permitless carry for people convicted of certain misdemeanors in the past five years and increased penalties for felons who illegally carry a gun. It requires the Texas Department of Public Safety to develop a free online course on firearm safety and training.

Currently to get a handgun license in Texas, a person must be at least 21 and meet requirements such as not having a felony conviction. Applicants submit fingerprints to the Texas Department of Public Safety, go through a criminal history background check and take an LTC course that includes components education on Texas firearm laws.

Texans wanting to get a license to carry a handgun will still have the option, but doing so isn’t required if the bill becomes law.

House Democrats on Sunday opposed the bill as it was considered on the floor. State Rep. Joe Moody, an El Paso Democrat whose hometown experienced a mass shooting on Aug. 3, 2019 at a local Walmart, lamented that more hasn’t been done to curb mass shootings in the nearly two years since the El Paso attack.

“When the doors were closed I heard lots of promises,” he said. “I haven’t heard them since.”

State Rep. Chris Turner, D- Grand Prairie, made a similar point ahead of the 82-62 vote.

“We have not enacted any serious legislation to address the epidemic of gun violence in the state,” he said.

The bill’s author and Tyler Republican, State Rep. Matt Schaefer, maintained that “those who intend evil… don’t care what we do in this building.”

“We are charged with defending the freedoms that are owed to Texans and guaranteed by the constitution,” he said.

House Bill 1927 was sent to a conference committee after the House didn’t accept changes made in the Senate, a few of which were aimed at making the legislation more agreeable to Texas sheriffs. State Sen. Chuy Hinojosa, D- McAllen, expressed concerns that the bill would put law enforcement in danger, as it will be harder to tell who is or isn’t allowed to have a handgun.

Schwertner said he believes the bill would enhance public safety if more law abiding citizens have guns.

It was initially unclear whether the bill would pass in the upper chamber, after Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said the legislation didn’t have the votes to get off the floor.

Patrick celebrated the bill’s passage on Twitter Monday.

“This historic bill is one of the strongest #2A rights bills ever passed,” Patrick said. “It affirms our commitment to protect the rights of gun owners and the safety of those in law enforcement.”

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