April 21, 2021

Tarantella Berlin

Specialists in law

Carrying a firearm in Texas without a permit? Here’s why it could become legal

AUSTIN (Nexstar) — Carrying a firearm without a permit in Texas may have a new chance to become law this year.

The Texas House Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee favorably reported a bill that would allow permitless carry in the Lone Star State.

House Bill 1911, would allow Texans over 21 years of age to carry a firearm without the standard licensing. It would also eliminate required firearms training.

State Rep. James White, R-Hillister, authored the bill this session. He said the training and licenses should not trump Second Amendment rights. 

“It doesn’t matter if they’re on the left or the right, or in the in the middle,” he said during a March 25 hearing. “Everybody wants their rights.”

Governor Greg Abbott made protecting and expanding second amendment rights a priority for the 87th legislative session.

In a marathon legislative hearing, all of the Texans who testified in-person during the hearing for HB 1911 supported the legislation, which is named after the M1911 pistol.

“Constitutional carry is a step in the right direction of going after the criminals instead of prosecuting everyday citizens for little things,” Alexie Swirsky said.

State Rep. Vikki Goodwin, D-Austin, was one of the three lawmakers who voted against approving the measure.

“Texans want more protections from gun violence, not less,” she said in a statement. “HB 1911 removes safeguards that ensure that those who are carrying handguns have been confirmed as eligible to do so.”

“In voting against HB 1911, I reject the idea that public safety depends upon greater access to guns and stand with survivors of gun violence who wish to promote safety in our firearm policies,” Goodwin continued.

White filed similar bills in past legislative sessions, but they did not gain enough support in the statehouse to pass, despite Second Amendment protections being a legislative priority of Gov. Greg Abbott. White explained the Republican-led legislature held off on giving his bill the green-light due to financial constraints.

“In the past, it’s come with a fiscal note,” he said in an interview.

The licenses come with a fee paid to the state. Losing out on that source of income could have a negative impact to the state’s finances, according to a legislative estimate of White’s similar bill in 2017. The Legislative Budget Board does not have a financial estimate on the impact of the bill filed this session.

“It has taken us a few years to dive into this issue some more,” White said.

HB 1911 passed favorably out of the House Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee with a 6-3 vote. The bill now waits for the Calendars Committee to place it on the House Calendar for the full chamber to vote on.

Lawmakers also heard testimony on a bill that would allow hotel guests to bring firearms with them from the car to the hotel room, regardless of the hotel’s weapons policy. The bill’s author, State Rep. Cole Hefner, R-Mount Pleasant, said it would prevent disrupting concealed carry laws.