Though lawmakers began filing legislation early Monday morning, it took until lunchtime Wednesday for one to file a bill concerning any of the five legislative priorities of the Republican Party of Texas.
State Rep. Jonathan Stickland (R–Bedford) filed “constitutional carry” legislation to remove the licensing requirement for Texans to carry a handgun openly or concealed. Stickland’s bill, HB 375, would maintain the licensing process for citizens who wish to obtain a license and enjoy reciprocity in other states.
“It is time in Texas to restore our Second Amendment rights to their originally intended level,” said Stickland. “No Texan should have to pay a fee or take a class to exercise their right to bear arms.”
Last session, lawmakers restored some of Texans’ gun rights by passing bills allowing licensed open carry as well as licensed concealed carry on college campuses. However, Stickland’s “constitutional carry” bill languished without a hearing and House Speaker Joe Straus (R–San Antonio) refused to recognize him to bring an amendment relating to “constitutional carry” to the floor of the House.
On gun rights, the bright red state of Texas lags behind eleven other states including the purple states of West Virginia and Missouri and the blue state of Vermont—all of which allow “constitutional carry.”
In May delegates to the Republican Party of Texas convention named the issue as the party’s number one legislative priority for the 85th legislative session.
Delegates called on lawmakers to “pass constitutional carry while maintaining licensing as optional for reciprocity purposes,” and charged the Republican State Chair and the State Republican Executive Committee to “utilize reasonable Party resources necessary to promote and support passage.”
Texas Scorecard reached out to RPT Chairman Tom Mechler and several staff members seeking to obtain a comment on the legislation as well as what the Party was planning to do in order to support the measure. Those phone calls were not returned.
However, Ray Myers, who served as Senate District 2’s delegate to the Platform Committee at the convention, was willing to comment on the filing of the bill. Myers said he strongly supports constitutional carry and that party officials need to honor their word and support the legislation.
“What we’re talking about is a God-given, constitutionally enshrined right to self-defense. Texans shouldn’t have to ask the government for permission and pay a fee to exercise that right,” said Myers. “Mr. Mechler and other officials pledged to us that they would push for our priorities. Now is the time for them to stand up and do so.”
Despite the Republican majority in the Texas House, Stickland’s legislation faces an uphill battle against Straus’ coalition government and its hostile record on gun rights. If Republicans are serious about the measure being priority legislation they need to contact their lawmakers and party officials and ensure the bill makes it over the finish line. There are no excuses.