By: José Niño
The 87th session of the Texas State Legislature has inspired some newfound optimism among pro-Second Amendment advocates throughout the state.
The introduction of Constitutional Carry bills HB 1238 and HB 2900 had grassroots activists fired up at the prospect of finally passing legislation that would lift the requirement for lawful individuals to have a permit to carry a firearm.
The excitement was so stark that Texas Second Amendment proponents packed the Texas House Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee hearing “late into the hours of the day [March 25] and the early hours of the next morning [March 26]”, according to a report by Daniel Friend of The Texan.
The Committee heard four bills to establish some form of handgun carry without a license. The one bill that most House Republicans are focusing on supporting is State Representative James White’s HB 1911, which has 43 House members signed on to it so far. Under HB 1911, individuals 21 and older who are eligible for a license to carry [LTC] will be able to carry without a permit.
Similarly, State Representative Matt Schaefer’s HB 192 loosens some restrictions on guns. HB 1927 is only applicable to individuals 21 and older who can legally obtain a firearm to carry in most venues without having to possess an LTC. That said, a license is still needed to carry under several instances for lawful Texans to avoid accidentally breaking state laws.
HB 1238, introduced by State Representative Kyle Biedermann, and HB 2900, introduced by State Representative Cole Hefner, are the two clean Constitutional Carry bills filed in the 2021 legislative session. These bills would cover the greatest number of people, in that they allow lawful Texans 18 and up to carry a firearm without a permit in places that LTC holders are currently allowed to do so.
All four bills would continue barring felons and people convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence from carrying a firearm.
“HB 1238 will help solidify Texas’ position as a pro-gun state by making a license to carry optional when carrying in Texas and ties the ability to carry your firearm to the ability to legally possess a firearm, but will keep the License to Carry program in place in order to maintain our current reciprocity with other states,” Biedermann declared after introducing his bill.
“Anything required for law-abiding citizens to carry and bear arms beyond the text of the Second Amendment is a usurpation of the people’s sovereign right to self-defense,” Biedermann added.
Hefner echoed some of Biedermann’s sentiments after introducing HB 2900:
“Federal law does not prohibit the possession of firearms by anyone 18 or older,” Hefner said. “[HB 2900], put simply, conforms to existing federal code in that it allows those same individuals to carry without a permit.”
There is some optimism in the 87th session because current House Speaker Dade Phelan has supported certain permutations of permitless carry in the past. Phelan’s receptiveness lies in stark contrast to previous speakers, such as Dennis Bonnen and Joe Straus, who always ignored the grassroots and did everything possible to kill pro-gun legislation.
On April 1, the House Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee moved HB 1911 out of Committee. Nevertheless, there are still concerns about the bill’s nature as a real Constitutional Carry bill.
Texas Gun Rights Executive Director Chris McNutt shared his thoughts with GPMon the state of 87th legislative session:
"We are working with Chairman White and Rep. Schaefer to fix some of the shortcomings in HBs 1911 and 1927 so these permitless carry bills can be considered true Constitutional Carry legislation. Under Constitutional Carry, all law-abiding gun owners should be treated equal under the law. Licenses shouldn't grant special privileges. So law-abiding adults should be able to carry their firearm in the same areas someone with an LTC can carry to prevent them accidentally running afoul of the law."
All eyes will be on Texas. The passage of Constitutional Carry there could be a watershed moment for this legislative push, as it could create a domino effect of states following suit in passing this legislation. GPM will be closely monitoring the 87th legislative session, which is set to conclude on May 31, 2021.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Get his e-book, The 10 Myths of Gun Control, here.