A proposal to allow Texans to carry a gun without a permit moved from the Texas House to the Senate today with a discussion in the Senate Constitutional Issues Committee.
Texas Senator Charles Schwertner chairs the committee. He explains, “Right now we have the license to carry-- the LTC-- and it is a hurdle for some individuals to avail themselves of their constitutional right to keep and bear arms and that is a hurdle that should be removed. And that's what this bill does."
Before the meeting police chiefs from across Texas gathered outside the capitol to have their say. Austin Police Interim Chief Joseph Chacon commented, "Guns are easier to obtain than ever before and it has become more common for people to use them. Weakening training regulations and effectively eliminating training requirements is not the direction that we should be going right now." He added, “It's reasonable and important to ask that someone carrying a firearm in public know how to safely handle and store a gun and have a basic awareness of the laws related to weapons and the use of deadly force. Stripping away those safeguards will make our streets less safe and will make law enforcement's jobs harder."
The chiefs have spoken out against the idea before saying gun owners have a duty to ensure their guns are handled safely and the gun licensing process is the best way to convey that message. Gun rights advocates are pushing the measure as a public safety issue.
The police opposition to carrying a gun without a permit has Republicans in a quandary because they want to campaign on supporting police AND protecting and expanding 2nd amendment rights.
Local political expert Jim Henson with The Texas Politics Project says republicans up for re-election in 2022 may already be wondering how their vote on this issue will affect their standing with voters in the party primary next spring. He explains, “If there's a sense among the republican majority in the senate that they need this for their primary elections next year, and Lieutenant Governor Patrick thinks his position and/or the maintenance of a republican majority in the senate require this, then I think we'll see him do it for political reasons."
Texas GOP Chair Allen West says the rights to have and carry a firearm should not be infringed, and that’s why we don’t need to have permits. Meanwhile Texas democrats have opposed the idea and instead have filed legislation that would increase gun restrictions.