Just across the Red River, law-abiding citizens will soon no longer need a permission slip from their state government to carry a handgun openly or concealed.
Beginning November 1, House Bill 2597, which passed the Oklahoma Legislature with bipartisan support, takes effect and enacts a form of “constitutional carry”—a change that permits Oklahomans age 21 and older to carry a firearm without a permit.
Veterans, active duty, and reserve military members age 18 and over are allowed to carry without a permit under the bill and concealed carry licensure has been maintained as optional for reciprocity purposes.
With the passage of the Oklahoma law, the Sooner State joins an ever-growing number of states that do not require licenses for the open carry of handguns—a list Texas is not on.
Indeed, despite the issue being a top priority for Texas gun owners and the Texas GOP, and the fact the Lone Star State is now surrounded by states that do have some form of constitutional carry, efforts to pass the legislation in Texas have sputtered and failed.
During the legislative session that concluded earlier this year, the legislation was not even filed in the Texas Senate. In the House, however, State Rep. Jonathan Stickland (R-Bedford) authored House Bill 357, which is substantially similar to Oklahoma’s new law with the caveat that Texans would be allowed to begin carrying a handgun in public at age 18.
That bill, however, died without even a hearing after Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen proclaimed it dead in February after pro-constitutional carry activist Chris McNutt block walked in Bonnen’s neighborhood, asking Bonnen and his neighbors to support the issue.
Bonnen falsely claimed McNutt had threatened his wife and children—claims proven false by DPS patrol officer footage that showed McNutt speaking cordially with officers rather than approaching Bonnen’s home. In fact, one of these aforementioned troopers even offered to take one of McNutt’s flyers and leave it on Bonnen’s door.
Bonnen attacked McNutt publicly, and the media were willing allies. Neither apologized after DPS footage was released and the truth was revealed.
With both Bonnen and Stickland having announced they do not intend to seek re-election to the Texas Legislature, constitutional carry and other gun-rights issues have an uncertain future in the Lone Star State—unlike New Mexico, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Louisiana.