“Don’t Mess with Texas”
Now more than ever this Texas state slogan takes on new meaning as the state House approved a bill that will make permit-less gun carry legal in Texas. Those with ill intent might think twice about any subversive behavior as they will never know which Texan standing next to them is locked, loaded, and legal!
Breaking new ground in a concerted effort to expand gun rights, a Texas House committee approved legislation Tuesday that would allow handguns to be carried — concealed or in a holster — without a state-issued license.
Approval came on a 6-2 party-line vote even though all six Republicans voting in favor of House Bill 1911 did so despite reservations — one over concerns that unlicensed carry could hinder police officers, and five because they believed the bill didn’t go far enough to remove restrictions on gun owners.
“I’m voting for it, and I’m proud to do so,” said state Rep. John Wray, R-Waxahachie. “It’s the first bill to be voted on in the Texas House to allow permitless carry of a handgun.”
Wray added, however, that he will begin working on floor amendments “to dial in 1911 to rectify restrictions on permitless carry,” including restrictions for those convicted of a nonviolent Class B misdemeanor.
The version of HB 1911 approved by the House Homeland Security and Public Safety Committeecontained several substantial changes from the version that drew extensive public testimony three weeks ago, including:
• To carry without a permit, gun owners would have to meet the same standards needed to obtain a license to carry, which is generally available to those who are 21 or older, have no criminal convictions and are eligible to purchase a weapon under federal and state laws. The earlier version would have allowed guns to be carried by those 18 and older.
• Churches and places of worship would be removed as prohibited places to carry a gun, although the sites could post signs banning guns if desired.
• Openly carried handguns would still be required to be kept in a holster, but not only in a belt or shoulder holster.
The revised bill by Rep. James White, R-Hillister, wouldn’t change any laws related to campus carry, a statute passed in 2015 that allows licensed gun owners to carry concealed weapons into most areas of public universities, said Rep. Phil King, R-Weatherford.
“This bill simply creates an unlicensed option to carrying a handgun,” said King, chairman of the committee.”