Many people view Texas as an extremely gun friendly state. Texas has been becoming gun friendly, but the image has not been entirely deserved. The Texas Legislature only restored partial open carry rights last year, after banning most open carry for a hundred and thirty years after Reconstruction. Open carry still requires a permit from the state. The permit fee is $140, putting it out of the reach of many people. State Representative Jonathan Stickland wants to change that. From caller.com:
“It’s time in Texas to restore our Second Amendment rights to their originally intended level,” said state Rep. Jonathan Stickland, a Fort Worth-area Republican who last year spearheaded the successful open-carry bill.
This time, Stickland is the chief author of legislation supporters call “constitutional carry.” Unlike the open-carry bill, the new measure does not require a license — or the passing of a gun-safety test and the payment of a $140 fee for the license — to allow a handgun to be carried either openly or concealed.
Stickland, who will begin his third two-year term when the Legislature convenes Jan. 10, pushed hard for a similar bill in 2015 but lawmakers were unwilling to go that far. This year, Stickland has a well-placed ally for at least addressing the license fee.
That ally is Lt. Governor Daniel Patrick. Lt. Governor Dan Patrick has been a staunch Second Amendment supporter in Texas. He is enthusiastically pushing to reduce the fee for the Texas Concealed Handgun License.
“Texas has one of the highest license-to-carry fees in the country,” Patrick said. “No Texan should be deprived of their right to self-protection because of onerous licensing fees imposed by the state.”
There is a lot of Texas legal code concerning the carrying of handguns and weapons. Strickland's bill has to deal with that, so it is fairly long. The bill is H.B. 375. Here is one of the key provisions of Stickland's bill. From state.tx.us:
Subsection (k) to read as follows:
(k) Notwithstanding any other law to the contrary, a person who is not otherwise prohibited by law from possessing a firearm shall not be required to obtain any license to carry a handgun as a condition for carrying a handgun.
Eleven other states already have permitless or “Constitutional” carry. Texas is not breaking any new ground. Constitutional carry is already working well in other states. Strickland's bill has a shot. Four states passed Constitutional carry last year, in 2016. Those states were Idaho, Mississippi, West Virginia, and Missouri. Several other states are considering removing infringements on the carry of arms in 2017.
It is not clear if there is sufficient public pressure in Texas to remove the infringement of a license to carry in 2017. In 2015, I predicted that open carry would pass, and that campus carry might pass. The Texas legislature passed both.
Here is a prediction for 2017. Constitutional carry may not pass, but the license fee will be reduced. It is an incremental step toward “Constitutional” or permitless carry. Before Reconstruction, Texas had the strongest right to bear arms amendment of any state in the United States. In Texas, even slaves had the right to keep and bear arms, as affirmed by the Texas Supreme Court in 1859. The decision was Cockrum v. State.
High permit fees chill the right to keep and bear arms. John Lott has noted that the more a permits costs to acquire, the lower the percentage of people who acquire them. A lowered permit fee is a move toward removing an infringement on the Second Amendment.
©2016 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.