People stood in line for hours Tuesday night for the chance to testify before a Texas Senate committee and show their support for what is called 'Constitutional Carry' of handguns, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.
The hearing stretched into the evening as witnesses, many of them single moms, testified that they don't have the time to go through the handgun safety class that is now required to carry a handgun, or can't afford the fee, which is currently $140. They feel that they are being 'left vulnerable' by the current system.
State Rep. Jonathan Stickland (R-Bedford) who is the sponsor of the bill, says current law penalizes honest people for being honest.
"Much to our amazement, it turns out criminals don't obey the law," he said. "Shocking, I know."
Others testified that the Second Amendment says nothing about having to be approved by the government to exercise your right to keep and bear arms, and some asked whether the state would also require a permit and fee before people can exercise other Constitutional rights, like speaking publically or attending church.
Stickland said Constitutional Carry is a non partisan issue, pointing out that 11 states currently allow it, including some of the most liberal states in the USA.
"In fact, the State of Vermont, the home of Bernie Sanders himself, has always had it," he said. "That is why they hold the title of the fewest gun murders per capita of any state in the country."
Current state law requires a person to complete a gun safety class and acquire a permit before a person can carry a handgun.
"This is not an expansion of who can possess a gun," Stickland said. "We believe if you can legally purchase a gun, you should be able to carry it."
The Committee did not take action on the bill.