Uh Oh: Will GOP Infighting Kill Texas' Constitutional Carry Bill?

J. Scott Applewhite

Constitutional carry looked like a done deal in Texas. It wasn’t.

It seems the House has rejected a number of measures included by the Senate in their version of the bill. This kind of thing happens when making laws, so there are procedures in place. Now, the two chambers will hash out the details behind closed doors, then the chambers will vote on the new bill.

The problem arises because there’s not a lot of time for all of this to take place.

Now, that issue is leading to some Republican infighting.

The battle over gun legislation in Texas was already dividing some Republicans, but now the head of the Republican Party of Texas is picking a fight with Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick over it.
Party Chairman Allen West took to social media on Thursday, accusing Patrick, an ardent supporter of the 2nd Amendment, of adding “poison pills” to the so-called constitutional carry legislation to sink it.
West said “Dan Patrick and Senate Republicans had tried to kill” the legislation that would allow Texans, 21 years of age and older, to carry handguns without any license or required training. The legislation is a top priority of Republican gun rights activists.
Patrick returned fire on Twitter later on Thursday, saying in part that “despite an avalanche of misinformation and just plain lies from outside agitators, we are on track for a big #2A win.”
Patrick didn’t mention West by name, but Allen Blakemore, a political adviser to Patrick, was more direct.
“Undermining @TexasGOP again @allenwest feeding his own political ambition. Now he’s lying about HB1927 to divide conservatives and kill #2A carry bill. No poison pill. No clue,” Blakemore tweeted.

The problem for me stems from the fact that the Texas Senate had no interest in the bill at all until Patrick stepped in. If constitutional carry passes, Patrick is going to deserve a lot of the credit.

Don’t get me wrong, I get the frustration over these other measures being included and that sidelining the process, but look at these measures for a moment:

The amendments, among other things, would stiffen penalties for felons carrying guns, as well as for others caught with guns who shouldn’t be carrying them, such as domestic violence offenders. Another amendment would prohibit people from carrying firearms in public while intoxicated.

These weren’t included to make anti-gunners feel better, but to make law enforcement feel better about the bill. It was a way to get them to back off on their opposition to the bill.

While I have no issue with anyone lashing out at these measures, let’s keep in mind that there’s still a chance for constitutional carry. If the Senate hadn’t voted at all, we wouldn’t be having this discussion. West wouldn’t have anything to lash out about.

Look, it’s one thing to look for blame when a bill like this is dead and buried. It’s another to start blaming someone while the process is still ongoing. Thankfully the House Speaker is still expressing a willingness to work with state Senators and not just throwing shade at them for their amendments.

Instead of the infighting, pro-Second Amendment Republicans should be looking to get this bill across the finish line. Will it be a perfect, pure Constitutional Carry bill? Likely not, but as long as the amendments to the bill are designed to target those who are already prohibited from legally carrying under current law and not legal gun owners, the Constitutional Carry bill would be a huge step forward for Texas and the 2A movement overall.