The Texas House of Representatives gave the initial approval to a “constitutional carry” bill that would allow handguns to be carried, either openly or concealed, without a permit.
The bill would get rid of current state laws that require residents to obtain a license in order to carry a handgun. It was approved by the House in an 84-56 vote. Almost all of the chamber’s Republicans and seven Democrats voted in favor. The legislation will now move on to the state Senate.
If signed into law, House Bill 1927, would allow state residents 21 and older to carry a handgun without a permit as long as they are “not otherwise prohibited by state or federal law from possessing the firearm.”
The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Matt Schaefer, said that the bill “should be called common-sense carry.” He argues that Texas residents should not be prevented from defending themselves and their families due to the time and resources it takes to get a firearms license.
With the legislation, however, residents are still prohibited from carrying a handgun inside restricted places such as schools, sports venues, amusement parks, hospitals, and jails. Private business and property owners are also still allowed to deny access to people with handguns if they want to.
Democratic Speaker Pro Tempore Joe Moody tried to push an amendment that would kill the legislation. In rejecting the bill, Moody cited the mass shooting at a Walmart in El Paso in 2019 where 23 people were killed.
“After those shootings … there were roundtable discussions and stakeholder meetings and a lot of promises — and I was hopeful, members, even knowing the political realities, I was hopeful,” he said. “Members, I’m so tired of doing nothing … When are we going to do something?”