AUSTIN, Texas (April 1, 2021) – Last week, a House committee held a hearing on a trio of “Constitutional Carry” bills that would make it legal for Texans to carry a concealed firearm without a license, and foster an environment hostile to federal gun control.
Rep. Cole Hefner (R-Mount Pleasant) filed House Bill 2900 (HB2900) on March 4. Rep. Matt Schaefer (r-Tyler) filed House Bill 1927 (HB1927) on Feb. 12. Rep. Kyle Biedermann (R-Fredericksburg) filed House Bill 1238 (HB1238) on Jan. 21.
If passed into law, the bills would end Texas’ concealed carry licensing requirements and remove the need for government permission to carry a concealed firearm in the state.
On March 25, the House Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee held a hearing on all three bills, an important first step in the legislative process.
Although all three bills would prohibit publicly displaying a handgun and would take effect in September, they differ in their technical language. Under HB2900, Texas residents not prohibited by state or federal law from owning a firearm would be able to conceal carry without a permit, with certain restrictions still applying. Police officers would not be able to arrest someone solely because they have a concealed or holstered weapon. Both public and private universities would not be allowed to prohibit concealed carry on campus.
HB1927 also allows those legally capable of owning a firearm to conceal carry, but specifically allows police officers to disarm a person a concealed weapon if “the officer reasonably believes it is necessary for the protection of the person, officer, or another individual.” The weapon must be returned once the person is allowed to leave the scene. Employers are also allowed to prohibit concealed carry on their premises. The bill also prohibits residents to carry a partially or wholly visible handgun on public and private universities.
HB1238 allows private and public universities to adopt rules and regulations regarding concealed carry on their campuses. Like HB2900, it also prohibits police officers from detaining or disarming a person solely because they have a concealed handgun.
EFFECT ON FEDERAL GUN CONTROL
While permitless carry bills do not directly affect federal gun control, the widespread passage of permitless conceal carry laws in states subtly undermines federal efforts to regulate guns. As we’ve seen with marijuana and industrial hemp, a federal regulation becomes ineffective when states ignore it and pass laws encouraging the prohibited activity anyway.
The federal government lacks the enforcement power necessary to maintain its ban, and people will willingly take on the small risk of federal sanctions if they know the state will not interfere. This increases when the state actively encourages “the market.”
Less restrictive state gun laws will likely have a similar impact on federal gun laws. It will make it that much more difficult for the feds to enforce any future federal gun control, and increase the likelihood that states with few limits will simply refuse to cooperate with federal enforcement efforts.
State actions such as passing HB357 would lower barriers for those wanting the option of defending themselves with firearms and encourages a “gun-friendly” environment that would make federal efforts to limit firearms that much more difficult.
The Committee on Homeland Security & Public Safety must pass one of these bills by a majority vote before it can advance for a House floor vote.