Constitutional carry has been a top priority for the Republican Party of Texas and gun owners across the Lone Star State for over a decade, but efforts to eliminate the requirement of a state gun permit were once again defeated during the last legislative session.
Could 2021 be the year constitutional carry finally becomes law?
For the past several sessions, the bill has been filed and championed by State Rep. Jonathan Stickland (R–Bedford), with another variation being filed by State Rep. James White (R–Hillister). Last year, however, Stickland announced he would not seek re-election.
State Rep. Kyle Biedermann (R–Fredericksburg), who has served in the Texas House since 2017, has promised to file the bill this session.
“Our Constitution was written to ensure certain rights of all citizens. Everyone has the right to life and to protect that life from harm. No one should have to pay a fee or get permission from the government before being able to do so legally,” Biedermann said in August. “I look forward to working with my colleagues to restore the rights of Texans.”
Despite being a perennial priority of the Republican Party of Texas, the bill has not received much traction in the Texas Legislature in recent sessions. During the most recent legislative session in 2019, the bill was sent by House Speaker Dennis Bonnen to a committee led by Democrat State Rep. Poncho Nevarez (Eagle Pass), where it was not even given a hearing. Bonnen himself even referred to supporters of the legislation as “fringe gun activists.”
The legislation was not even filed in the Texas Senate in 2019.
Does it have a better chance this year?
Last month, Biedermann joined State Rep. Tony Tinderholt (Arlington), as well as incoming members Bryan Slaton and Jeff Cason, in signing onto a letter to presumptive Speaker of the House Dade Phelan, asking him if he would continue the practice of appointing Democrat members to chair committees where important Republican priorities—such as constitutional carry—would be sent.
They have not yet received a response.
While Phelan did not lend his name to previous efforts to bring constitutional carry to Texas, he did pass legislation to allow for the unlicensed carrying of handguns for a week during a state or federal disaster, such as a hurricane.
Meanwhile, a bill has not yet been filed in the Senate. Newly elected State Sen. Drew Springer (R–Muenster), however, served in the House while running in the special election for his seat in December. During the campaign, Springer filed a constitutional carry bill in the House, indicating he may file similar legislation now that he has been sworn in as a senator.
The legislative session is slated to begin on January 12 at noon.