Texas lawmakers are preparing to return to the statehouse for the start of the legislative session.
One prefiled bill from Rep. Jonathan Stickland aims to remove the need for the handgun license process. The Constitutional Carry bill would give residents the right to carry a gun with or without a permit.
“We don’t think that Texans should have to pay for their Second Amendment rights,” Stickland said. “This would get rid of the mandatory test and fee Texans are currently having to pay and restoring constitutional rights.”
Stickland said the bill does not do away with the permit for classes, but makes them optional.
“If people were trying to pass a required test and make you pay a fee for your First Amendment rights, then people would be going insane about that,” he said. “Why it’s somehow become allowable with the Second Amendment? I have no idea.”
“This bill does not expand who can carry or where they can carry,” he added. “If you are a felon, or anything like that, this is not an expansion of who can carry. You will still have to go through the background checks of purchasing the weapon.”
If passed, Texas would be the eleventh state with a Constitutional Carry law. Vermont, Alaska, Arizona, Wyoming, Kansas, Maine, West Virginia, Mississippi, Idaho and Missouri already have similar laws.
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“Unfortunately Texas is not leading on this issue,” Stickland said. “Constitutional Carry passing means there is a whole new group of people previously who have not been able to afford the fees and pay the price for the mandatory classes will now be able to carry.”
Amanda Johnson is a member of the group Texas Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America and is also a gun violence survivor.
“If it takes a license to legally drive a car, the same should be true for carrying a weapon in public,” she said. “Allowing for the complete removal of permitting requirements for both open and concealed carry of handguns in public would increase the risks of tragedies by eliminating any firearm safety training requirement.”
“Parents should not have to worry if the armed stranger standing next to their children is a responsible gun owner or a threat to public safety,” she added.
Strickland said the bill would not negatively affect public safety.
“I think passing Constitutional Carry would affect crime in a positive way. I think an armed society is a safe society,” he said. “Any time we can start getting people to take personal responsibility for their own well being, it’s a good thing.”