This article has been updated with a correction regarding State Rep. James White’s 2017 bill, HB 1911.
In light of new committee assignments announced this week, constitutional carry legislation may have renewed life.
Last session, a bill to remove the permitting requirement to carry a handgun was killed by now-retired Democrat State Rep. Poncho Nevarez when the legislation was sent to the Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee, which he chaired. Nevarez didn’t give the bill a hearing.
On Thursday, State Rep. James White (R–Hillister) was appointed chairman of the House Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee by Speaker Dade Phelan.
White’s placement could be a major step forward for gun rights activists. The Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee deals with issues relating to law enforcement, anti-terrorism activities, crime prevention, and gun regulation. White has been a known supporter of constitutional carry, even filing his own bill, House Bill 1911, to implement it during the 2017 session. The bill would have made anyone already eligible to apply for an LTC (license to carry) able to carry without a permit.
That legislation, however, did not pass.
Nevertheless, constitutional carry has long been a priority for conservatives. In fact, constitutional carry is a top legislative priority for the Texas GOP, with 85.38 percent of its members demanding the Texas Legislature “restore legal Texas firearms owners’ rights to carry them openly or concealed without a permit, while maintaining the option of a permit for reciprocity purposes” in the 2020 Republican primary.
Four members of the committee have been endorsed by Gun Owners of America, an organization that has heavily advocated for constitutional carry, as well as State Reps. Cole Hefner (R–Mt. Pleasant), Matt Schaefer (R–Tyler), Jared Patterson (R–Frisco), and Tony Tinderholt (R–Arlington).
Many have speculated that the 2021 session could be more friendly for Second Amendment rights, with several bills being filed to expand permitless carry in Texas.
Considering concerns that the Biden administration may launch further attacks on the Second Amendment, State Reps. Steve Toth (R–The Woodlands) and Matt Krause (R–Fort Worth) have also filed bills that would prohibit the enforcement of federal firearms laws, with Krause’s bill applying to both past and future federal regulations.
However, with many Democrats and moderate Republicans still present in the Texas House, time will tell if Texas Republicans’ goal of constitutional carry will finally be achieved.