AUSTIN (KXAN) — While he says he’s a supporter of the Second Amendment, Austin Interim Police Chief Joseph Chacon says there still needs to be a permit system for people to carry a concealed weapon in Texas.
He, along with other Texas police chiefs, spoke Thursday in opposition of a bill currently moving through the Texas Legislature that would allow Texans to carry a gun without a permit.
“I want to be clear, this is not about the Second Amendment,” Chacon said. “It’s not about peoples’ right to lawfully carry a firearm — I’m very much in support of all those things. Carrying a powerful weapon is also a responsibility.”
He said the training involved in getting a permit is “crucial to public safety.”
“It’s reasonable and important to ask of someone carrying a firearm in public know how to safely handle and store a gun, and have a basic awareness of law related to weapons and use of deadly force,” Chacon said.
The comments came as a special committee, made specifically to discuss the bill, is set to convene at the Capitol on Thursday. The bill passed through the Texas House 84-56 after hours of debate April 15, and it’s now up to the Senate to decide its fate.
On a radio interview earlier in the week, Gov. Greg Abbott said he would support the deal and that it “should reach my desk.”
Proponents of the bill call it “common-sense legislation” in the sense that it’s part of the Bill of Rights and refer to it as “constitutional carry.” They also say it would allow responsible gun-owners access to firearms after costs to secure a license are removed.
“”Very frequently, people of lesser means are more directly affected by such restrictions, because they may or may not have the means to apply for a license to carry a handgun,” said Rick Briscoe, legislative director for Open Carry Texas. “Or they may have had some minor scrape with the law which, under present, Texas law would disqualify them from being able to obtain a license to carry, and yet they have the same need protect their families and themselves.”
Opponents, like Chacon, say it’s common sense to keep the permitting process as is, since it requires training and certification that someone has been taught how to use the firearm.
With the permitting system, officers are aware of who is licensed to carry a concealed weapon when they process the person’s information. Without the system, they would have no idea who could potentially have a gun, he said.
Jimmy Perdue, the police chief of North Richland Hills, Texas, near Fort Worth, said Texas has “a long history of a very successful license to carry process.”
“A key part of the process is training where people must demonstrating a proficiency with the weapon and an understanding of the law,” he said.
He also mentioned that The Texas Department of Public Safety denied 2,269 applications for a license to carry in 2020, about one-tenth of a percent of the total applications DPS received.
“The vast majority of people who applied got a permit,” Perdue said. “To claim the process has somehow denied a law-abiding citizen from receiving a permit is just groundless. The current system works and should be kept in place.”