Given the whole “don’t mess with Texas” mantra, many would be surprised to discover that if a Texan wants to carry a firearm in public, he or she must first ask the state for permission. Yep, you heard that right: Texas is not one of the freest states in the Union when it comes to bearing arms – but that’s all changing now.
In April, a bill to allow Texans to carry concealed or openly without a license cleared the state House of Representatives by a 60% majority. Many spoke up against the measure, however, and it seemed the bill might die in the Senate. When it came time for the Senate to decide the right to keep and bear arms, however, senators voted 18-13 – a 58% majority – in favor. Governor Greg Abbott says he’ll sign it, and with that, constitutional carry comes to the Lone Star State. For detractors of the bill, it’s all over but the crying – and they’re doing plenty of that.
The Cryin’ and the Lyin’
Dallas Police Chief Eddie Garcia has been a vocal opponent of the idea since it was first floated. “It makes our job, the job of our men and women, more dangerous,” Garcia said. “Gun owners have a duty to ensure that their firearms are handled safely and a duty to know applicable laws. The licensing process is the best way to make sure this message is conveyed.”
Of course, safe firearm handling is the responsibility of every gun owner – but is a single four-hour course and a range visit to shoot without any threat of attack going to ensure that an armed citizen can keep his or her head in a firefight or remember the cornucopia of relevant laws regarding when and how to use the firearm? It isn’t as if Texas requires actual combat training. The license requirement seems to be a lot more about tracking and charging gun owners extra fees than protecting the public.
After all, Texas law enforcement is already prohibited from stopping an armed person and asking to see a permit simply because the gun is visible. Criminals who intend to commit violence don’t tend to worry too much about other, less significant laws anyway. If a violent criminal wants to carry a gun and knows that the police can’t interfere without a better reason than simply the sight of a weapon, the license requirement is hardly a deterrent. As far as law enforcement officers on the street go, this bill will make little practical difference in their day to day lives.
“Today, by allowing dangerous permitless carry legislation to move forward, disgraced Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick is setting Texans up to lose more loved ones due to gun violence,” a statement by the Texas Democratic Party declared. “Texas Republicans continue to be a major threat to public safety, this time attempting to remove all requirements for people to carry a handgun in public.”
It’s unclear exactly how Mr. Patrick is disgraced, but it’s hardly surprising they threw in that straw man attack, given the false claim that the bill “removes all requirements for people to carry a handgun in public.” Those who carry must still be at least 21. They must not have a record of felony or violent misdemeanor crimes. The only thing that changes is whether a state-issued permit – which the police aren’t allowed to ask for without a good reason – is required.
State Senator José Menéndez, a Democrat, used a bit of deceptive statistical manipulation to call the bill “irresponsible” and say it creates “a path for more violence.”
“The ability for more men to carry a gun is actually more dangerous for women in abusive relationships,” he warned. “A woman living with a gun in the home is three times more likely to be murdered than one with no gun in the same home.”
This claim seems to come from a survey of battered women. Vox ran a story on it back in 2018. The survey compared abused women who survived to those who died and found that 51% of those who died had a gun in the house, while only 16% of them didn’t. That’s the three times as likely stat. Sadly, that makes sense; if a woman is in an abusive relationship and the abuser has access to a firearm, she’s more likely to die. Bullets tend to kill more efficiently than fists. However, the study does not say that the women themselves were armed – only that there was a gun in the house. It also does not factor in any women who weren’t in abusive relationships. There are hundreds of millions of firearms spread out over tens of millions of American households – a great many of which include female residents.
That Texas Swagger
While the left lobbed their best attacks at the bill, it still cleared the Senate and, if the House accepts a few amendments without further changing anything, it’ll be on Abbott’s desk soon. “I support it, and I believe it should reach my desk, and we should have constitutional carry in Texas,” Abbott said. If it makes it that far, this bill will bring Texas into fellowship with 20 other constitutional carry states – and just a little closer to Second Amendment compliance.
“My belief, as the author of this bill, is that individuals carrying – that are lawfully doing so in self-defense – make our society safer, and as such make our communities safer and help law enforcement in general,” explained state Senator Charles Schwertner. Fellow Republican, state Senator Brandon Creighton, was so dedicated to passing the bill, he showed up for the vote despite having been injured in a car accident recently. “Nothing will keep me from voting for HB1927 and for Texans constitutional rights,” he explained. He had to be carried out after collapsing toward the end of the six-hour debate, but still managed to get his vote in favor logged.
Read more from James Fite.