On Thursday, the Texas House of Representatives heard a bill related to constitutional carry, or the permitless carry of firearms. The bill, House Bill 1927 by State Rep. Matt Schaefer (R–Tyler), has previously been filed in varying forms in recent legislative sessions but had never made it beyond the committee process.
After several hours of debate, several amendment attempts, and a few points of order that were overruled by Speaker Dade Phelan, the bill passed on to third reading by a vote of 84 in support and 56 in opposition. Notably, the lone Republican to vote against the bill was State Rep. Morgan Meyer (R–Dallas).
While the debate was wrapping up on the overall bill, one of the joint authors, State Rep. Terry Canales (D–Edinburg), said, “This is a criminal justice reform bill, and I urge you to support it to keep people out of jail.” He said it made no sense to him that the State of Texas had a “hodgepodge” of laws that let you keep a gun everywhere around you but on your person.
In all, seven Democrats voted for HB 1927.
In his closing statement Schaefer said, “I believe it is time for the State of Texas to become the 21st constitutional carry state.”
The amendment ultimately failed with a vote of 12 in favor and 121 in opposition. Eight chose not to vote at all. (See image for vote tally.)
Notably, several people who voted against the amendment were authors of other constitutional carry bills, which set the age at 18 years old that did not make it out of the House Homeland Security & Public Safety Committee this session, including House Bill 1238 by State Rep. Kyle Biedermann (R-Fredericksburg) and House Bill 2900 by State Rep. Cole Hefner (R-Mt. Pleasant).
Another amendment, offered by House Speaker Pro Tem Joe Moody (D–El Paso), would have struck the enacting clause of the bill, ultimately killing it. The amendment failed with a vote of 63 in support and 79 in opposition. Notably, the lone Republican to vote in support of killing the bill was, yet again, State Rep. Morgan Meyer (R–Dallas).
The bill will be heard for the third and final time tomorrow, April 16. It is expected to pass to the House with the same vote spread as Thursday. It is unclear, however, what its prospects are in the upper chamber.
Thus far this session, the Senate has taken no action on the only bill filed in its chamber related to constitutional carry, Senate Bill 540 by State Sen. Drew Springer (R–Muenster). It was referred to the Senate State Affairs Committee on March 11, and yet over a month later has not been granted a hearing.
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has been starkly silent on the topic as well. In 2017, while the Legislature was debating “open carry” bills, Patrick had previously expressed wariness due to law enforcement concerns and indicated he did not think the votes were there in the Senate at the time. He said then, “I think with all the police violence today we have in our state … law enforcement does not like the idea of anyone being able to walk down the street with a gun, and they don’t know if they have a permit or not.”
Constitutional carry is a legislative priority of the Republican Party of Texas.