Texas Legislature to Try Again to Pass 'Constitutional Carry'

Texas already allows the open carry of firearms, but some in the state Legislature don’t think that goes far enough, Newsradio 1200 WOAI reports.

A bill filed for the upcoming special session would allow the open carry of handguns without a permit, what is known as 'Constitutional Carry,' because the Second Amendment says the 'right of the people to bear arms shall not be infringed,' and supporters say the need to take a class, pay a fee, and obtain a permit from the government is clearly an 'infringement.'

 It's authored by State Rep Jonathan Stickland, who tried the same tactic in 2015 and 2017.

"Except as otherwise provided by this chapter or other law, a person 21 years of age or older who is not prohibited from possessing a firearm under Section 46.04 or other law is not prohibited from carrying: (1)  a concealed handgun; or (2)  a partially or wholly visible handgun in a holster," it reads.

Nationwide, the purchase of a handgun requires a background check, but in Texas, owners also need a permit to carry a handgun either concealed or in a holster.  That permit costs money, and supporters of the move have argued that it deprives poor Texans of carrying out their constitutional rights.  

But the plan has faced scrutiny from groups that argue for more gun control, like Texas Gun Sense.

Susan Nelson says there is a permitting process for a reason.

"How do we educate people on safe storage so guns are not getting into the hands of the wrong people?"

They're pressuring the legislature to enact so-called Red Flag laws, which would allow family members, physicians or even law enforcement to go to a judge and argue for the seizure of someone's firearms because they could harm themselves or someone else.  Nelson says permitless carry could make that harder as well.

In the last session, a similar bill was heard in committee, but never made it to the Texas House floor.

With a new House Speaker and new members in the state legislature, its fate this session is unclear.

Supporters feel that the more guns the better.  Nelson disagrees.

“There’s actually no documentation that it actually works, but there is a lot of documentation on deaths from guns that were in the hands of people at extreme risk.”


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