Gun rights activists showed up en masse to the Texas Capitol on Thursday to testify in favor of constitutional carry, a perennial priority for Texas Republicans.
In a marathon hearing that lasted until Friday morning, the Texas House Homeland Security Committee met, in part, to discuss constitutional carry bills that would allow citizens to possess firearms without permits from the state.
Four bills were considered by the committee: House Bill 1238 by State Rep. Kyle Biedermann (R–Fredericksburg), House Bill 1911 by State Rep. James White (R–Hillister), House Bill 1927 by State Rep. Matt Schaefer (R–Tyler), and House Bill 2900 by State Rep. Cole Hefner (R–Mt. Pleasant).
This was the first time since 2015 that there has been a constitutional carry bill filed in both the House and Senate and only the second time in Texas history it has been given a committee hearing.
The Republican Party of Texas and gun owners across Texas have been advocating constitutional carry for more than a decade, but efforts to eliminate the need for a state gun permit have consistently failed to pass in the Texas Capitol.
Meanwhile, 32 other states have some form of permitless carry. Many individuals who came to testify in support of constitutional carry pointed out that other states have already passed constitutional carry, including left-leaning blue states such as Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont.
“I can tell you from going across Texas … if you go to grassroots groups and conservative groups, every one of them wants constitutional carry,” said Wes Virdell, who drove from Brady (two hours west of Austin) to testify.
“We shouldn’t have to ask for permission to carry a firearm. If we’re legally allowed to carry it, it’s not the government’s right to delegate if we can or not. Because that’s a privilege at that point, instead of a right,” he told Texas Scorecard.
Representatives from Young Americans for Liberty, Gun Owners of America, and Texas Gun Rights also showed up to push for the legislation.
Texas Republican Chairman Allen West also submitted written testimony of his own in support of two of the constitutional carry bills.
“Our Constitution is our rule of law, and the first ten amendments of that venerable document contain our Bill of Rights,” said West. “Those First Amendment rights, such as freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of expression, freedom to assemble, and the right to petition the government for redress of grievance, do not come with any requirement to obtain a permit.”