With pistols on their hips and Constitutions in their hands, Second Amendment advocates from all over the state surged into the Texas Capitol on Thursday to demand lawmakers protect gun rights.
As part of “Gun Owner Lobby Day,” members of a majority of state and national gun groups flooded the Texas Capitol to push for the passage of “constitutional carry” which would repeal state licensure requirement for lawful gun owners to carry pistols openly or concealed.
Though Texans often boast of how conservative their fellow citizens and their laws are in relation to the rest of the country, one area that the Lone Star State has seriously lagged behind is on gun rights.
Though most states allow their citizens to open carry handguns, Texas completely barred the practice until the state’s open carry law went into effect last year. However, that law still requires citizens to take a class, subject to fingerprinting, and pay a $140 fee before they are granted the right to open carry.
As a result, support for constitutional carry has been growing in Texas with the state GOP making the issue their number one priority for the Texas Legislature this session. Currently the majority of advocates are placing their support behind HB 375 by State Rep. Jonathan Stickland (R–Bedford).
While many fear that the issue will die without a hearing like it did last session, Stickland says constitutional carry won’t suffer the same fate this session.
“I have spoken with Chairman Phil King and he has promised us a hearing on constitutional carry very soon,” said Stickland. “The grassroots citizens demand this legislation pass, and I will continue to work with them to ensure that Texans’ rights and liberties are always protected.”
Championing Stickland’s legislation were almost a dozen gun groups including Texas Gun Rights which rallied gun owners before they made their way into lawmakers’ offices to demand they support constitutional carry.
“With your help we can and will get constitutional carry to be the law of the land here in Texas, and our state will finally live up to her reputation of being the most gun-friendly state in the nation,” said the organization’s founder Justin DeLosh.
Conspicuously absent from the push was the Texas State Rifle Association, which ostensibly held a separate event on their own. Asked for comment, TSRA refused to respond to any of the following questions by the deadline:
- What efforts has TSRA made to support constitutional carry this session?
- Will it be a failure for gun owners if constitutional carry is not passed this session?
- Will TSRA hold members of the Texas Legislature accountable if they fail to pass constitutional carry?
- Will lawmakers who refuse to publicly support constitutional carry continue to receive endorsements from TSRA?
This article will be updated if they respond.
TSRA has had a suspect record on constitutional carry, and did not advocate for the measure last session. In correspondence with members this year, TSRA at first omitted the issue. However, after reporting by Texas Scorecard brought the omission to light the organization did include constitutional carry among its “good bills” in a letter just days later.
In covering that change of heart, this publication said:
“Though merely mentioning the legislation is far from the level of advocacy that TSRA is capable of it’s a definite step in the right direction. As the session progresses the organization will have ample opportunities to prove or disprove critics’ claims about its commitment to protect Texas gun owners.”