Republican Representative James White authored House Bill 1911 to eliminate the need for Texans to apply for a costly license to carry a handgun within the limits of existing law. On April 18, 2017, this bill was approved by the House Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee in a 6-2 vote. It was sent on the the Calendars Committee for scheduling it to be discussed on the House floor.
Bill 1911 would allow Texas citizens to carry a firearm without a permit under the same conditions that exist today, i.e. a person would have to be 21-years-old or older, have no felony charges, be free of any Class A or Class B misdemeanor charges, cannot be ‘chemically dependant’, or have a personal protection order against them for domestic violence.
Rep. White says the bill does not depart from existing Texas state laws regarding legal handgun carry. “Already, you can walk down the street with a rifle. Right now, you have guns in your automobile. Right now, you can have them in your boat. All without a license,” White says.
House Bill 1911 is called a “constitutional carry” law by proponents. Thirteen other states now allow unlicensed carry of handguns: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas (though this is disputed), Idaho (residents only), Kansas, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, North Dakota (residents only, concealed only), Vermont, West Virginia, and Wyoming (residents only).
Three additional states have a restricted constitutional carry: Montana (outside city limits), New Mexico (unloaded weapon, loaded magazine, vehicle carry), and Oklahoma (residents of constitutional carry states). [Wikipedia]
There’s another measure, House Bill 375, which would eliminate the requirement for handgun safety training. State Representative Jonathan Stickland, the Republican who wrote the bill, says, “Carrying a firearm is a is a big personal responsibility, and taking a couple of classes for a couple of hours doesn’t mean you’re necessarily ready to carry. For most gun owners, they put more time and training into it than the state mandates.”
He also says it’s time to restore the constitutional rights of the people of Texas. On the other hand, Democratic Representative Gina Hinojosa of Austin, says, “We should not make it easier for criminals to get guns, and that’s just common sense.” The Representative doesn’t seem to be aware that already criminals get guns regularly; they don’t buy them legally, they don’t obtain a concealed handgun license, and they don’t carry the firearms lawfully.
Firearms instructor and peace officer Raul Camacho said he agrees with allowing citizens the right to carry firearms, but adds that anyone who carries a handgun should be educated in their use. He does not agree that HB 375 should be passed. To back up his opinion, he demonstrated how many gun owner hold their firearms at the range, with their finger on the trigger. “I want everyone to carry guns,” he said, “but you need training; you need to be educated.”
Republican members of the House Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee are:
- Chairman-Rep. Phil King (R-Weatherford)
- Rep. DeWayne Burns (R-Cleburne)
- Rep. Justin Holland (R-Rockwell)
- Rep. Will Metcalf (R-Conroe)
- Rep. Matt Schaefer (R-Tyler)
- Rep. John Wray (R-Waxahachie)
HB 375 has been in House committee since March of 2017. The House is scheduled to return to work on May 15, 2017.