AUSTIN, Texas (June 16, 2021) – Today, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed a “Constitutional Carry” bill into law, making it legal for Texans to carry a concealed firearm without a license, and fostering an environment hostile to federal gun control.
Rep. Matt Schaefer (R-Tyler) filed House Bill 1927 (HB1927) on Feb. 12. The new law repeals Texas’ concealed carry licensing requirements and removes the need for government permission to carry a concealed firearm in the state. Texas residents 21 and over can now carry a concealed firearm if they are not otherwise prohibited from possessing a gun by state or federal law. Open carry is also allowed under the law.
The state’s concealed carry permitting program will continue for those wanting a permit to carry in a state with CCDW permit reciprocity with Texas.
The House and Senate passed different versions of the measure and HB1927 went to a conference committee to hammer out a compromise. The House passed the final version 82-62 and the Senate approved it by a 17-13 vote. With Gov. Greg Abbott’s signature, the law goes into effect on Sept. 1, 2021.
The compromise bill included some Senate amendments to appease law enforcement, including striking a provision that would have prohibited police from questioning someone simply because they are carrying a weapon. The proposed law would also enhance criminal penalties for felons and family violence offenders caught carrying firearms.
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 “constitutional carry” 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.