With pressure building to pass a constitutional carry bill, new legislation has been filed in the Senate to do exactly that.
State Sen. Charles Schwertner filed SB 2224 on Thursday. Almost immediately, the bill was referred to the Senate Administration Committee—which happens to be chaired by Schwertner. Notably, a similar constitutional carry bill authored by State Sen. Drew Springer (R–Muenster) was filed in early February, referred to the Senate State Affairs Committee in early March, but has not yet been scheduled for a public hearing.
Markedly, the House passed its version of constitutional carry last week in House Bill 1927 by State Rep. Matt Schaefer (R–Tyler). Since then, it has been unclear whether it would even get a hearing in the Senate, as the majority of senators had been relatively silent on the subject.
Constitutional carry is a legislative priority of the Republican Party of Texas.
On Monday, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said, “If we have the votes to pass a permitless carry bill off the Senate floor, I will move it.” He went on to say, “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 [National Rifle Association] and GOA [Gun Owners of America] who support it to see if we can find a path that a majority of senators will vote to pass.”
The Senate requires 18 votes to pass a bill in the 31-member Senate. There are currently 18 Republican senators; barring a Democrat senator coming out in favor of the policy, the issue would need the support of all Republican senators.
Last week, State Sen. Kel Seliger (R–Amarillo) made headlines by suggesting he had reservations about the policy. In an interview with The Texas Tribune, he said, “My office is still researching the issue” and that the “system we have now works.”
Thus far, it is unclear why a bill was suddenly and conspicuously filed after the bill-filing deadline of March 12, when the Senate could have either acted on the constitutional carry bill passed by the House or taken up the bill filed by Springer. The only senators to have come out in support of constitutional carry so far this session are Republican State Sens. Dawn Buckingham (Lakeway), Brandon Creighton (Conroe), Bob Hall (Edgewood), and Springer.
With fewer than 40 days left in the 87th Legislative Session, the window is starting to close on the prospects for bills to get through both legislative chambers.