It looks like the last major hurdle for pro-Second Amendment activists looking to turn Texas into a Constitutional Carry state has been overcome, with Republicans in the House and Senate finding enough common ground on compromise language to iron out their differences in the legislation, setting up a final round of votes this week.
Permitless carry legislation had already been approved by both chambers, but the Senate amended the House version, and Republicans in the House rejected those changes, which led to a conference committee taking a look at the bill in the hopes of coming up with something that state representatives and senators could both support. Late Friday afternoon, Rep. Matt Schaefer, the original sponsor of Constitutional Carry, announced that an agreement had been reached.
“By working together, the House and Senate will send Gov. Abbott the strongest Second Amendment legislation in Texas history, and protect the right of law-abiding Texans to carry a handgun as they exercise their God-given right to self-defense and the defense of their families,” Schaefer said.
Abbott has said he would sign into law a “constitutional carry” proposal. Schaefer’s House Bill 1927 would eliminate the requirement for Texas residents to obtain a license to carry handguns if they’re not barred by state or federal law from possessing a gun.
Lt. Governor Dan Patrick said last week that a final vote could be coming in the next few days, and the news that an agreement has been struck should come as a relief to supporters of the measure. This year’s legislative session is set to end this week, and there’s always a mad scramble to approve legislation at the last minute, but HB 1927 looks to be in good shape for one last round of concurrence votes before the legislature adjourns.
On the off chance that the bill doesn’t receive a final vote this week, the permitless carry measure would likely return in a special session later this year. While no date for the session has been announced yet, lawmakers are guaranteed to come back to Austin to approve a redistricting measure. Thanks to delays in the 2020 census, the legislature has yet to draw up the map that will be used starting with the 2022 elections, but Gov. Abbott is expected to bring lawmakers back this fall to work on that issue as well as other high-priority items that might not get a final vote before the regular session expires.
Constitutional Carry may not be the only piece of Second Amendment legislation approved by the legislature in the waning days of the session. On Saturday night, the state Senate advanced a House bill that would establish Texas as a Second Amendment Sanctuary, and a final vote could come as early as today. Lawmakers in Austin have also given their nod to a bill that would ease restrictions on foster parents who own firearms.
Sen. Brian Birdwell, R-Granbury, said current rules are onerous and could put foster parents in danger, as well as discouraging some folks from taking on that important role.
State law now says gun-owning foster parents have to store their guns and ammo separately under lock and key. This, Birdwell told colleagues, diminishes the value of a gun for self-defense.
He’s got a point there. No sense having a gun for self-defense if it’s not readily available for use when you need self-defending.
“These provisions burden a Texans right to self-protection,” Birdwell said, “particularly in an immediate needs situation, and consequently discourage individuals from becoming and remaining foster parents.”
HB 1387 does away with the provision that guns and ammo have to be stored separately in foster homes, though they’d still have to be in a locked location.
All in all, this is shaping up to be an extraordinarily successful session for Texas gun owners. Generally, the short time frame of the legislative session means that Second Amendment activists are lucky to get one major piece of legislation signed into law, but it looks like we’ll see two major bills and several smaller pro-gun measures like HB 1387 get Gov. Abbott’s signature this year. We’re not quite at the finish line yet, but both Constitutional Carry and Second Amendment Sanctuary legislation should head to the governor before lawmakers adjourn sine die later this week.