The Texas House of Representatives could consider a measure allowing state expanding the right to carry handguns without a permit. House Bill 1911 was approved by the House Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee on 18 April 2017 in a 6-2 vote. It was thensent to the Calendars Committee, which will determine if it will be scheduled for discussion on the House floor.
The bill would allow anyone over the age of 21 to carry a gun without a license if they meet a set of existing rules for handgun permit holders: they must not have any Class A or B misdemeanor convictions and no felony convictions; they cannot be found to be "chemically dependent"; and they cannot be "restricted under a court protective order or subject to a restraining order affecting the spousal relationship," among other requirements.
Officials from several law enforcement agencies called for the bill's demise at a press conference on 2 May 2017, including Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo, who said:
Texans understand with rights come responsibilities. And those that have proven to be irresponsible do not deserve, do not have, under the law, the right to carry a gun. And quite frankly we in law enforcement cannot have our hands tied.
State Rep. James White (R), who wrote the measure, said that the bill did not represent any major departure from existing state law.
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.
The bill is one of several proposed during the current House session promoting what proponents call "constitutional carry." Ten other states currently allow gun owners to carry them without a license. On 2 May 2017, the House tentatively approved a measure lowering the cost of a gun owner's first license from $140 to $40. The measure also reduced the cost of renewing a license to $40 from $70.
Another measure, HB 375, would make gun training optional, instead of a requirement.
The author of HB 375, State Rep. Jonathan Stickland (R), said:
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. We just think its time to restore the constitutional rights to Texas.
Stickland's bill has been in committee since March 2017.
We contacted the Calendars Committee seeking comment, but they did not respond. The House is scheduled to reconvene on 15 May 2017.