Permitless firearm carry bills take center stage in Austin

Texas lawmakers will consider a permitless carry bill on Thursday.
Texas lawmakers will consider a permitless carry bill on Thursday.((Source: Live 5/File))
Published: Apr. 13, 2021 at 6:57 PM CDT
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KILLEEN, Texas (KWTX) - A group of firearm instructors and law enforcement representatives rallied against so-called permitless carry bills at the Texas Capitol on Tuesday.

“It has to be responsible; you have to be trained,” Jorge DeLeon, one of the firearm instructors who spoke at the Capitol, told KWTX.

“How many times have you seen people without training — and they, you know, accidentally discharge,” he said.

House Bills 1927 AND 1911 would allow anyone who meets the requirements for a handgun license, but who does not hold one, to carry a handgun — either concealed or in a holster — in places where that is legal.

The bills would remove the requirement that someone needed to receive four to six hours of classroom training and take a written exam and a proficiency exam at a range before they could receive a license to carry a handgun.

Permitless carry would apply to anyone who is 21 or older and exclude those with certain felony or misdemeanor convictions.

“It’s a mistake; training is really important,” DeLeon said.

Emily Taylor, an independent program attorney at Texas LawShield, said it is “already incumbent on those who are carrying to make themselves safe by going to the range consistently and by practicing.”

“Fifty rounds onto a piece of paper, which is our current requirement to get your License to Carry, is not enough to make sure you are truly proficient and safe with a firearm,” she told KWTX.

She also said that the bills could open the possibility of carrying to a wider subset of people.

“Under current Texas law, there are crimes for which you could have been placed on deferred adjudication, which means you are put on a probation-like system, but if you complete it, your case gets dismissed,” Taylor said.

“You don’t have a criminal history . . . and yet there are some of those crimes for which Texas says you can never ever obtain an LTC, even if you successfully completed that deferred adjudication at age 21 and now you’re 45,” she said.

“It really does open up the world of carry to those who deserve it,” she added.

Both bills have cleared the House Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee.

HB 1927 is scheduled to be heard in front of the full House on Thursday.

Advocates are hopeful that the bill will go further than it has in previous sessions because House Speaker Dade Phelan supported a similar bill in the 2017 legislative session.

However, the Senate has been more hesitant to take up the issue in the past.

“I’d give it about a 50-50 shot in the Senate,” Taylor said.

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