It has only been a few weeks since the Texas Legislature opened for its 2015 session and legislators have already filed over three dozen pro-gun and gun-control bills. As of this writing, January 29, 2015, only five of those bills have been read and referred to committee—Senate Bills 11, 258, 256, 257 and 259.
Senate Bill 11
Authored by Senator Brian Birdwell (R-Granbury), Allen Fletcher (R-Cypress), along with 10 others, Senate Bill 11 allows valid concealed handgun license (CHL) holders to carry a concealed handgun on college campuses. The bill gives permission to carry on all property of privately and publicly owned institutions of higher learning including dormitories and campus housing. The bill allows the college to put rules in place of storage for firearms in campus housing. However, it prevents any college to ban the legal carry of handguns. Senate Bill 11 exempts hospitals run by or on college campuses.
Senate Bill 258
One of the favorite anti-gun measures of gun control groups is closing the mythical gun show loophole. Authored by Senator Rodney Ellis (D-Houston), Senate Bill 258 makes it a Class A misdemeanor to sell a firearm at a gun show without conducting a criminal background check. It forces each person who sells a firearm to maintain a record of every sale unless the sale of the firearm is to a police officer or CHL-holder. Further, Senate Bill 258 holds the gun show promoter criminally liable if anyone is found selling a firearm without performing a criminal background check.
In Texas, dealers selling at gun shows must perform background checks on buyers before selling the a firearm. However, private sales between individuals are not subject to the same law. Surprisingly, the bill that achieved the most attention has yet to move.
Legislators filed nine bills and one House Joint Resolution before the March 13 deadline in support of the open carry of handguns in Texas. It has been illegal since the end of the Civil War to openly carry a handgun in Texas. The open carry of long guns and black powder guns without a permit is legal in Texas.
Two of the bills, House Bill 195 and Senate Bill 342 allow for Constitutional Carry—the ability to legally carry a firearm openly or concealed without a permit. The majority of the open carry bills filed require permits and other restrictions, such as Representative Debbie Riddle’s (R-Spring) House Bill 415 requiring open carry holsters to have “dual points of resistance.”
The other open carry bills filed
The open carry bills made headlines and garnered nationwide media attention in the last few years due to open carry activists events and protests staged all over Texas. Since the Texas House and Senate session opened on January 13, the open carry debate has become a seriously debated, hot button issue.
On the first day of session, members of Open Carry Tarrant County (OCTC) approached and subsequently kicked out of Representative Poncho Nevarez’s (D-Eagle Pass) office. In the past, Rep. Nevarez voted against campus carry and against lowering the required number of hours for training for a concealed carry license.
The group filmed the confrontation and posted it on its Facebook page.
After being kicked out of Rep. Nevarez’s office, a member of OCTC filming the incident stopped at a man in the hallway. He said, “What are you going to do, touch me or something? Are you creeping up behind me?” The man replies, “I’m just here, man.” The OCTC member said, “That’d be one wrong move, bro” and later you hear him say, “I’ll show you mean.”
Soon after the incident, the House granted permission for those who installed panic buttons in their offices to bill the state for the service and Rep. Nevarez was assigned a security detail.
On Tuesday, January 27, pro-gun activists’ favored candidate, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick—who co-sponsored a 2013 bill supporting concealed carry on campus—said he did not believe there were enough votes to get any open carry bill passed. Further, former Land Commissioner and open-carry supporter Jerry Patterson blames Open Carry Tarrant County for the possibility of the open carry bill not passing. Posting to OCTC members on social media, Patterson wrote, “If unlicensed OC doesn’t pass these antics will be the reason.”
Lt. Gov. Patrick’s comments quickly circulated through the firearms community with much criticism. One day after claiming there wasn’t enough support for open carry, Patrick issued a statement saying, “Now that 11 has support and is moving towards passage we can focus on other Second Amendment issues, including open carry, which I have consistently supported.”
It remains to be seen whether or not open carry will pass this year.
Other Note-Worthy Pro-Gun Bills Filed
- House Joint Resolution 61 pertains to a constitutional amendment for the right to hunt and fish
- Senate Joint Resolution 22 supports a constitutional amendment for the right to hunt and fish
- House Bill 226 imposes fines on those who improperly post 30-06 signs
- House Bill 308 removes all restrictions on where a CHL holder can carry
- Senate Bill 311 removes restrictions on private property and privately owned business for CHL holders
- House Bill 206, House Bill 712 and Senate Bill 228 support a tax-free weekend for hunters and shooters once a year on shooting, firearms and hunting-related gear
- House Bills 176 and 413 pertain to The Second Amendment Preservation Act
- House Bill 216 lowers the required age from 21 to 18 for a permit to carry a concealed handgun
- House Bill 695 extends concealed carry into privately owned hospitals and nursing homes
- House Bill 868 pertains to the Teacher’s Protection Act allowing educators to use deadly force on school property, on school buses and school-sponsored events if justified
- Senate Bill 229 makes it an offense to unlawfully seize a firearm
- Senate Bill 311 allows concealed carry in previously banned places including hospitals, amusement parks and churches
Senator Ellis, who filed Senate Bill 258 requiring background checks at guns shows, filed more anti-gun bills and are all in committee.
- Senate Bill 256 bans the ownership, selling, rental, loaning or gifting of magazines holding more than 20 rounds with the offense of a Class A misdemeanor
- Senate Bill 257 makes it a criminal offense for failing to report a lost or stolen firearm within 48 hours
- Senate Bill 259 makes it an offense to transfer a firearm to any person without performing a background check
Do you support open carry? Tell us why or why not in the comment section.