You may soon need a license to drive and vote in Texas but not carry a handgun in public.
After years of failed attempts by gun advocates, the Texas House on Thursday gave initial approval to a bill that would drop the state's requirement that most handgun owners obtain a $40 license to carry their firearm in public, concealed or openly. Currently, Texans 21 and over with no criminal record can get a license to carry a handgun if they complete a training requirement, don't have a drug addiction, and can "exercise sound judgment with respect the proper use and storage of a handgun," the Austin American-Statesman explains.
The measure would drop the license requirement, though federal background checks would remain in place for most handgun purchases, with exceptions for private and gun show sales. It passed 84-56, mainly along party lines; five Democrats voted in favor, one Republican voted against. The legislation needs another vote in the House, and it faces an uncertain future in the state Senate.
The El Paso delegation led the unsuccessful opposition to the bill, HR 1927. After a gunman murdered 23 people at a Walmart in 2019, followed weeks later by the mass shooting of seven people in Midland Odessa, "there were roundtable discussions and stakeholder meetings and a lot of promises — and I was hopeful, members, even knowing the political realities, I was hopeful," said state Rep. Joe Moody (D). "I'm so tired of doing nothing," he added. "I'm so tired of catering to a very small number of very loud people whose thinking about guns is wrapped up in unfounded fears and bizarre conspiracy theories."
Permitless carry has the support of the Texas Republican Party and the National Rifle Association. It is opposed by law enforcement groups, firearms trainers, and groups of clergy and veterans. At a break in the five-hour debate, a group of gun control advocates prayed and sang "Amazing Grace" in the gallery, before being escorted out by law enforcement.