Texas Senate poised to vote on constitutional carry

By Bethany Blankley

A week after Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said he didn’t have the votes in the Republican-led state Senate to pass constitutional carry, he’s now saying he will bring the bill to the floor for a vote.

Texas is one of the only Republican-led states that has not passed a constitutional carry bill. In constitutional carry states, residents can legally carry a firearm without a license.

Sometimes referred to as Vermont carry, permitless carry or unrestricted carry, it is the ability to legally carry a firearm (openly or concealed) without a permit or any other government-applied restriction, ConcealedCarryStates.org explains. The organization provides information about state conceal carry laws.

Vermont has never restricted the right for adults to carry a firearm and its state Supreme Court ruled that Vermont’s constitution did not permit licensing and training restrictions. Alaska was the first state to rescind its concealed carry permit requirement in 2003.

Constitutional carry is a priority of Gov. Greg Abbott, who declared that making Texas a sanctuary state for the Second Amendment was a top priority this year after 20 states have passed constitutional carry laws.

However, according to state Senate rules, all 18 Republicans need to support the bill to pass it. So far, not all 18 will go on the record to state whether they support the measure. A floor vote require legislators to take a position.

“This is something that 20 other states have adopted, and it’s time for Texas to adopt it, too,” Abbott said during an interview on WBAP.  

Several weeks ago, the state House passed House Bill 1927 filed by Rep. Matt Schaefer, R–Tyler, allowing the permitless carry of firearms, which received bipartisan support.

The bill has been a priority of the Republican Party of Texas for years, but this legislative session is the first time such a bill made it past the House.

State Sen. Drew Springer, R–Muenster, introduced a companion bill, which was referred to the Senate State Affairs Committee.

Last week, Patrick said, “If we have the votes to pass a permitless carry bill off the Senate floor, I will move it. At this point, we don’t have the votes on the floor to pass it. I plan to meet with law enforcement who oppose permitless carry and with the NRA and GOA, who support it, to see if we can find a path that a majority of senators will vote to pass.”

He estimated that he only had 12 or 13 members out of 31 who would support the bill. To pass the bill, Patrick needs all 18 Republicans to support it.

In response to Patrick’s concerns, Rachel Malone, the Texas director of Gun Owners of America, said, “If the Senate is convinced that the people of Texas will not be satisfied unless Constitutional Carry passes this year, the Senate can find the votes for Constitutional Carry. We look forward to discussing with Lt. Gov. Patrick the best path forward to repealing the license requirement so that legal gun owners do not have to apply for a permit to simply carry a handgun. And we urge all Texans to contact your State Senators to be sure they know that their constituents want them to prioritize this policy.”

Due to grassroots pressure, Patrick created a special Committee on Constitutional Issues and referred Springer’s bill to that committee. The committee held a hearing on the issue Thursday.

“We’re gonna come out with a strong bill, and I believe we’ll pass it,” Patrick said.

“It’s rare that I do this,” he added. “Usually, if you don’t have the votes for a bill, you don’t bring up a bill that’s going to lose, but this is an important issue.”

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