AUSTIN (Nexstar) — On Friday, the Texas House officially passed House Bill 1927, a bill that would allow Texans to carry a gun without a license.
The day after a deadly mass shooting in Indianapolis, Republicans and gun activists say laws like this one could help stop mass shootings.
“We need constitutional carry,” Erich Pratt with Gun Owners of America said Friday in support of the bill, adding it would put more guns in the hands of good guys.
“We need people who are able to protect themselves at the scene of the crime, obviously, before the police can get there,” Pratt said.
But gun safety advocates and Democrats including State Rep. Vikki Goodwin of Austin said the bill is a move in the wrong direction for public safety.
“Having more guns in more places on the streets and businesses is just going to result in the wild wild west,” Goodwin said, also pointing out that getting rid of the license requirement also tosses out the requirement of training.
“It removes that requirement for people to go and have a training class, to sit through a class just like you do when you’re learning to drive a car. You learn the rules, you learn the laws,” Goodwin said.
Police associations this week also announced their opposition to the bill, calling it a threat to officers and to public safety as a whole.
The Texas Police Chiefs Association said without weapons retention training, guns could end up in the wrong hands.
“When an individual who decides to carry a handgun, they could inadvertently arm a previously unarmed individual,” Chief Brian Harvey with TPCA said Friday, “I don’t think there’s high confidence that those individuals have a foundational knowledge of exactly what their liabilities and responsibilities and duties are with that weapon.”
Pratt pushed back that the licensing process is unconstitutional and doesn’t do anything to keep the guns away from criminals.
“You’re never going to stop people from getting their hands on instruments of mass destruction, whether it’s a truck, whether it’s fertilizer, whether it’s box cutters, people are going to do bad things. And that’s why you see that the states that actually have constitutional carry are the safest states in our country,” Pratt countered, pointing to other states that have already passed similar legislation.
El Paso State Rep. Joe Moody on the House floor Thursday said he had faith in the state legislature to pass meaningful gun reform after the 2019 mass shooting in his district that left 23 dead.
“But now, here we are, the first legislative session back since then, and it’s another date that’s going to be burned into my heart,” Moody said, urging members to vote against the bill. “April 15, 2021, is the date where we did nothing at all once again.”
Now, the bill heads to the Texas Senate. With only a few weeks of session left, Democrats hope for bipartisan support on a bill that would require background checks for all gun sales, not just those in retail stores.
“Individuals can sell guns to other individuals who they don’t know anything about. So closing the background check loophole would be my number one solution,” Goodwin said.
That’s something gun safety advocates like Moms Demand Action fully support.
“The Texas Legislature has an opportunity to really pass laws that would actually keep us safe from gun violence. The data shows common-sense gun laws, like for example, closing the loopholes on background checks requiring a background check on every gun sale, saves lives, Nicole Golden with the organization said Friday.
She added she’s disappointed HB 1927 has made it to the House floor this session, despite the state’s track record of gun violence.
“This rolls back a system we’ve had in place for a very long time, that says that you have to go through some basic training, you have to know how to handle the gun, you have to know the law in order to get a permit to carry that gun so that we can actually be assured that those people are law-abiding citizens,” Golden added. “It’s really disheartening.”