Groups for and against expanded gun laws in Texas say they are closely watching the legislative session, which started on Tuesday.
One reason, House Bill 375. If passed, it opens the door for Constitutional Carry in the state.
The law would allow gun owners to openly carry their weapons with or without a permit. It would also make licensing and training classes optional. The law was first introduced in the legislature in 2015; now, it’s back.
State Rep. Jonathan Stickland, R-Bedford, wrote House Bill 375. Gun control groups fear Stickland’s bill would roll back their work.
“Everything we have worked for in the past decade or more to improve safety and permitting, we would just throw out the window to allow anyone to carry without any training,” said Texas Gun Sense Vice Chairman Ed Scruggs. “We don’t understand why we would want to go down that road.”
Texas Gun Sense started shortly after the Virginia Tech shooting in 2007. The group gained steam after the Sandy Hook Elementary massacre in New Town, Connecticut in 2012. The group plans to lobby Texas lawmakers Wednesday, asking them not to support the controversial law.
“We’re emphasizing safety, responsibility and common sense,” Scruggs said. “We’re striving to find common ground with the legislative majority. And, I know we’re making progress on that.”
If passed, Texas would join 10 other states that already have constitutional carry, including Maine, Mississippi and Missouri. Gun rights groups believe those against this bill are coming from other states looking to influence Texas laws.
“These people who are moving in from other states, spending their money here trying to get gun control measures passed,” said Central Texas Gunworks Owner Michael Cargill.”Good luck, because we’re not going to let it happen. This is the state of Texas, we’re going to send them back to New York or California where they came from.”
Cargill said anything less than Constitutional Carry in Texas is a breach of Second Amendment rights.
“Constitutional Carry should be everywhere in the state,” said Cargill.
Texas became the 45th state to allow open carry of handguns in a hip or shoulder holster. Right now, gun owners who chose to carry must have a permit.