Permitless carry could soon go to vote in Texas House

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AUSTIN (Nexstar) — Guns are expected to be a hot topic as state lawmakers head into the home stretch of the 2017 legislative session. Monday marked the start of the final four weeks and there are more than a dozen gun-related bills that have a decent shot at going to vote on the House and Senate floors.

One of the most talked about proposals filed this session, House Bill 1911 would allow Texans to carry a handgun without a permit. Known as permit-less carry or constitutional carry, HB 1911 would make licenses for both open and concealed carry optional, along with the safety training that’s currently required.

State Representative James White, R-Hillister, filed the proposal based on the idea that licensing and training requirements should not get in the way of a person’s Second Amendment rights. “I just say this is something Texans should have,” said Rep. White. White describes his proposal as “a clean-up bill that puts everything and everybody on the same level playing field—handguns, pistol revolvers, along with long arms.”

“Nobody has the right to pull the trigger and kill my child,” said Calandrian Kemp. Her son, 20-year-old George Kemp Jr., was shot and killed in Houston in September of 2013.

“The first thing in my head was where in the hell did the gun come from? Where did it come from? From some teens? What were they doing with a gun?” Kemp asked, still in disbelief.

While gun control advocates believe the proposal is “dangerous,” permitless carry supporters argue an armed society is a safer society. When asked if his bill would make Texas safer, White said, “I don’t think that’s an assessment that I can make, I just look at it as a constitutional right.” White added, “Obviously, there is a very stringent federal background check that every person has to meet when they purchase a firearm.”

Under HB 1911, gun owners would still have to meet the same restrictions that are required to obtain a license to carry: be at least 21 and have no felony convictions.

An earlier version of the bill would have allowed anyone 18 or older to carry a firearm without a permit in Texas.

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