Texas House approves 'constitutional carry' of handguns, would allow carrying of guns without permit
Billed as the ultimate enhancement of self-protection, lawmakers in the state House have allowed Texas adults over 21 to freely carry handguns just about anywhere they go without the current necessity of training or a license.
"This bill is about people's God given right to protect themselves and that applies no matter what neighborhood you live in, who your parents were, how much money you make or who you voted for. This applies to all Texans," said State Representative Matt Schaeffer of Tyler, the bill's sponsor.
"Since you can already have it at home, you can already have it in your car and you can already have it in your business - you really are just expanding it a pretty small amount," said Representative Phil King, a Weatherford Republican.
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Opponents raised a wide variety of warnings with Democrat Carl Sherman predicting universal freedom to legally carry will put Black lives at disproportionate risk. particularly with police.
"What do you think the ramifications will be for them if there is a gun in their car that is seen? They are already seen as a danger," said Sherman.
Houston Representative Ann Johnson fearful that businesses unwelcoming of firearms will be forced to ask armed customers to leave their premises.
"I'm letting you know as someone who has been in criminal justice for 20 years, please don't egg on the conflict, please don't egg on that fight," pleaded Johnson
And then there is the abiding concern that Texas lawmakers are enabling the proliferation of gun play while doing little to keep firearms out of the wrong hands.
"I'm so tired of the gun being worshipped like some golden calf and hearing all about rights but nothing about responsibilities. When are we going to do something?" said Rep. Joe Moody, a Democrat from El Paso.
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"It's my view that Representative Schaeffers bill will now allow people who are mentally ill to carry guns," said Rep. Rafael Anchia, a Democrat from Dallas.
The House version of "Constitutional Carry" passed by a vote of 84-56.
An amendment to lower the legal age to carry a pistol in public from 21 to 18 was overwhelmingly rejected.