Permitless carry of handguns in Texas unlikely to pass — for now

Texas Politics

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AUSTIN (Texas Tribune) — Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said Monday that the Texas Senate doesn’t currently have the votes to pass permitless carry of handguns — but that he’ll see if there’s a “path” to change that.

The news from the Republican presiding officer of the Senate came days after the House approved a permitless carry bill, commonly referred to as “constitutional carry” by supporters.

“If we have the votes to pass a permitless carry bill off the Senate floor, I will move it,” Patrick said in a statement. “At this point we don’t have the votes on the floor to pass it. I plan to meet with law enforcement who oppose permitless carry and with the [National Rifle Association] and [Gun Owners of America] who support it to see if we can find a path that a majority of senators will vote to pass.”

House Bill 1927 would get rid of the requirement for Texas residents to get a license to carry handguns if they are not already prohibited by state or federal law from possessing a firearm. The House gave final approval to the legislation on Friday morning in an 87-58 vote that included seven Democrats in support of it.

A permitless carry bill has been filed in the Senate, but it was referred to a committee over a month ago and has not received a hearing yet.

In previous sessions, Patrick previously said there’ not enough support for permitless carry, and in 2017, he echoed law enforcement concerns about “anyone being able to walk down the street with a gun and they don’t know if they have a permit or not.”

Last week, several police associations met at the Texas Capitol to protest bills eliminating need for permits.

“Citizens would not have to demonstrate proficiency with the firearm, or even basic awareness of firearms safety,” said the Texas Police Chiefs Association. “At least with the license to carry permit, citizens must demonstrate basic knowledge and an awareness of the laws.”

Texas Democrats meanwhile share these worries, especially in the wake of several mass shootings, including shootings in Bryan, Midland-Odessa and El Paso.

“What in the world is wrong with a license?” asked Rep. Julie Johnson (D-Dallas). “We have a license to drive a car; we have a license to do so many things. A license is not an infringement of your First Amendment rights. It’s just common sense. And it’s really disappointing that the Republicans have taken a strong party-line stance today to keep to really make it less safe in our state.”

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