Before this year’s legislative session had even begun, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott called on lawmakers in Austin to send him a Second Amendment Sanctuary bill. Now, in the waning days of this year’s session, the governor is throwing his weight behind a Constitutional Carry bill as well.
The Texas House has already approved Constitutional Carry language, but the Republican leadership in the Senate seems less inclined to take up the issue, but Abbott’s comments may be enough to get the bill moving again. The governor sounded pretty confident that the legislation will receive a Senate vote in an interview with a Dallas radio station yesterday.
“Once the Senate passes it out, the House and Senate will convene and work out any differences and get it to my desk,” Governor Abbott told WBAP’s Rick Roberts on Tuesday. “And I’ll be signing it.”
Before the Governor announced his support for the bill on WBAP, he had been tight lipped about where he stood on the bill.
“This is something that 20 other states have adopted and it’s time for Texas to adopt it, too,” Governor Abbott told Roberts.
We’ve already seen Utah, Montana, Tennessee, and Iowa governors sign permitless carry language this year, and Abbott is correct about the number of states nationwide that have removed the requirement that legal gun owners obtain a license to carry.
The Texas legislation is similar to other laws already in place around the country; it wouldn’t end the state’s concealed carry licensing system, but no longer would that license be required in order to carry a firearm. If it’s legal for you to own the gun, it would be legal for you to carry it as well.
Abbott’s comments come just days after the Supreme Court accepted a case dealing with New York’s far more restrictive carry laws. Unlike the “shall issue” licensing system in Texas, applicants in New York must show some time of good cause or justifiable need to carry a firearm beyond a general right of self-defense, and the licensing authorities in each county have broad discretion in approving or denying applicants based on their own subjective reasoning.
The biggest hurdle for Constitutional Carry in the Lone Star State remains the Senate. In fact, according to the Texas Tribune, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick warned supporters last week that the bill doesn’t currently have the support needed for passage.
Last week, Patrick created a new committee with a majority of permitless carry supporters. The House legislation, House Bill 1927, was then referred to the panel, and HB 1927 is set for a hearing Thursday.
Abbott said he has talked to “several senators” on the new Senate Special Committee on Constitutional Issues.
“I believe it is making progress,” Abbott said.
This is truly a remarkable turnaround for the bill’s prospects. Despite solid GOP control of the legislature, Second Amendment legislation tends to move fairly slowly in Texas. It took multiple sessions to gain approval of campus carry, for instance, and Constitutional Carry appeared to be dead in the water as the session began back in January, in part because Abbott’s biggest 2A legislative priority was a Second Amendment Sanctuary bill. With just a month left in the session, the calendar might be the biggest challenge for Constitutional Carry, but if Second Amendment advocates continue keeping up their contacts with legislators, they could very well help to turn Texas into the 21st Constitutional Carry state this year.