By: José Niño
Due to favorable committee assignments in Texas House, Constitutional Carry has strong chances of passing in the Lone Star State in 2021.
On previous occasionsm when the Texas State House featured the likes of Dennis Bonnen and Joe Straus as House Speakers, Constitutional Carry would always languish in the House. These pro-establishment House Speakers would assign Constitutional Carry bills to committees that were hostile to the legislation. In turn, there would be no movement for these bills.
Pro-Second Amendment watchdogs like Lone Star Gun Rights have observed that former “Speaker Dennis Bonnen appointed former Rep. Poncho Nevárez, a Democrat, to chair the House Homeland Security Committee during the 86th legislative session.” This committee usually handles matters concerning firearms regulations, law enforcement, crime, and terrorism.
When the current House Speaker, Dade Phelan, announced that he would name Democrats to head up various House committees, many gun owners became worried. Such a move brought flashbacks of previous sessions in which Democrat-led committees would block, if not outright kill, Constitutional Carry legislation.
In the 2019 legislative session, Democrat Poncho Nevarez headed up the Homeland Security Committee, where Constitutional Carry withered away after never receiving a hearing. This was under the leadership of Bonnen, who like his predecessor Joe Straus, appointed a Democrat to chair the committee and ended up torpedoing the legislation.
Several Republican leaders in the State House are aware of the previous history of legislative disappointments and wrote to Speaker Phelan, demanding that he place more of an emphasis on conservative issues, such as the Second Amendment.
State Representative Kyle Biedermann, Tony Tinderholt, Bryan Slaton, and Jeff Cason signed on to the letter. Biedermann himself filed the Personal Protection & Safety Act, House Bill 1238, which grants lawful individuals the ability to carry a firearm without a permit.
Phela appears to have felt the grassroots pressure and appointed State Representative James White to be the chair of the House Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee. James White is a solid proponent of expanding gun rights and Constitutional Carry legislation. Back in 2017, he sponsored a permitless carry bill that would have let any law-abiding Texan carry without a permit.
Other members of the Public Safety Committee, such as State Representatives Cole Hefner, Jared Patterson, Matt Schaefer, and Tony Tinderholt also support Constitutional Carry and received endorsements from multiple pro-Second Amendment organizations.
When reached for his opinion on the prospects of Constitutional Carry, Texas Gun Rights Executive Director Chris McNutt expressed cautious optimism about this legislation passing:
"Texans are looking for their elected officials to take the lead on defending and restoring the Second Amendment in Texas. Especially with an anti-gun Biden administration in office.
“Things are finally looking in our favor for passing Constitutional Carry in 2021 in terms of committee assignments the bill is likely to go through in both chambers.”
McNutt stressed the importance of getting the grassroots activated in this fight:
“The key will be getting the grassroots involved, encouraging their legislators to take quick action to pass Rep. Kyle Biedermann's HB 1238 without delay. And they must reject all compromises to try and weaken the bill. Texas stayed red in 2020, in spite of doom and gloom forecasts of Democrats flipping the House, and Texas Republicans need to recognize that.”
For years, Constitutional Carry has generally eluded Second Amendment lovers in the Lone Star State; however, 2021 might just be the year that it finally makes serious progress. Obviously, there are no givens in politics. It will still require considerable grassroots pressure and a robust legislative strategy to ensure Republican officials hold the line and bring the legislation to a vote.
Nonetheless, Constitutional Carry’s chances of being passed in Texas during the current legislative session are much higher than in previous sessions.
Let’s not squander this opportunity.
José Niño is a freelance writer based in Austin, Texas. Sign up for his mailing list here. Contact him via Facebook, Twitter, or email him at email@example.com. Get his e-book, The 10 Myths of Gun Control, here.