Though the Texas Legislative Session ended months ago, pro-gun Texans haven’t given up the push for Constitutional Carry. Several legislative matters failed to come to fruition through the regular session, including Constitutional Carry. The failure to launch on these legislative issues led Gov. Greg Abbott to call for a Special Session. However, noticeably missing from that call was Constitutional Carry, which had passed out of committee and died on the vine during the regular session.
I say “noticeably missing” because the Texas House, Senate and Governorship are all Republican controlled. That fact is relevant because the Republican Party of Texas has listed Constitutional Carry as its top legislative priority in the party platform since the 2014 convention. Two legislative sessions and now a special session since then and no Constitutional Carry bill has made it to the floor for debate or vote.
Texas House District 92 Representative Jonathan Stickland has been the driving force behind Constitutional Carry in Texas. Stickland has now introduced HB296, a Constitutional Carry bill for the special session. However, only the Governor can amend the special session call to include it. Enter grassroots pro-gun, 2nd Amendment advocates Lone Star Gun Rights. While many pro-gun groups have been supporting Constitutional Carry in Texas, Lone Star Gun Rights has been among the most public and vocal. Having already delivered 80,000 signed petitions to the Governor’s office, LSGR continues the petition drive to have Gov. Abbott add it to the call.
Since the Texas Legislature only meets every two years, if this drive to add Constitutional Carry to the special session fails, it will have to wait until 2019.
Texas has made some headway on the 2nd Amendment front. In the 2015 session they passed licensed open carry and campus carry. In the 2017 regular session they passed HB1935 which repealed virtually all restrictions on the carry of knives regardless of length or type, with only a few specific exceptions. As of September 1st, Texans can legally carry the “official knife of Texas,” the Bowie Knife again among other things. They also reduced the fee for the license to carry (LTC) from $140 to $40.
Texas also has a very strong “castle doctrine” which allows for permitless carry in you home, auto and place of business. It also protects the citizen while carrying from home to auto and auto into place of business without a permit, open or concealed. Texas has also always had permitless open carry of long guns (rifles and shotguns). Which played a part in the Open Carry marches that gained national attention. The purpose being to illustrate the absurdity of unrestricted open carry of long guns while restricting the carry of handguns. Handguns being more effective for public self-defense and less disturbing than carrying an AR-15 or AK-47 around town.
Gov. Abbott has never been shy about expressing his pro-gun sentiments. During the 2015 Legislative Session he even said he would sign Constitutional Carry if it made it to his desk. However, right now Constitutional Carry is solely in the Governor’s hands. Only he can add it to the special session call, so he is the focus Texas gun rights advocates. Constitutional Carry is a platform priority of the Governor’s party, the petitions continue to roll in and public support for gun rights continues to rise. However, the Governor has not yet shown any signs of amending the call to include Constitutional Carry