Its not often that something is approved unanimously in the Texas Legislature, but both Democrats and majority Republicans on the Senate State Affairs Committee moved quickly last night to drastically reduce the fee to obtain and renew a handgun permit, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.
Most lawmakers applauded citizens like Benjamin Bennett, who spoke out in favor of reducing the fee from the current $140 to $40.
"As a disabled Texan, I have been priced out of my God given right to self defense," he said.
Jennifer Mandry said she has been accosted on the streets twice recently, but can't get a gun to protect herself from street violence due to the cost of the permit.
"As a single income family, the cost for a CHL for me is out of our budget and not something we can afford," she said.
The bill, which now goes on to consideration by the full Senate, will also reduce the fee to renew a handgun permit from $70 to $40.
State Sen. Bob Hill (R-Granbury), who is the chief sponsor of the bill, says Texas now has the third highest fees for handgun permits in the state.
Many lawmakers urged the Committee to eliminate the fees entirely, but they decided that $40 covers the costs to the state of administering the handgun program, and eliminates what several witnesses called the 'Second Amendment Tax.'
Many pointed out that reducing the fee is different from the 'Constitutional Carry' bill, which is also making its way through the Legislature. It would allow any citizen who can legally buy a firearm to walk out of the shop with it on his or her hip, without having to undergo classes or pay any fees.
Mandry said reducing the fee is a good start."I don't feel that cost is something that should stop me from protecting myself and my family," she said.
The bill to reduce the fees is one of the priorities set out by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick for the current session.