The 85th Session of the Texas Legislature opened in Austin with a slew of pro- and anti-Second Amendment bills.
One of the bills filed in December by State Senators Robert Nicols (R-Jacksonville) and Joan Huffman (R-Houston) would remove the fees associated with the Texas License to Carry. The removal of fees would apply to new applications, duplicate, modified, or renewed licenses, Breitbart Texas reported. The NRA’s Institute for Legislative Affairs (ILA) praised the bill saying, “SB 16 will allow honest citizens at all income levels to have equal access to this vital personal protection option.” In a written statement obtained by Breitbart Texas. The current fee for a new application is $140 unless certain situations apply to lower or eliminate the fee.
“Texas has one of the highest license to carry fees in the country. SB 16 will make lawful carry more affordable for law abiding citizens across the state. No Texan should be deprived of their right to self-protection because of onerous licensing fees imposed by the state,” Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan said in a written statement in December.
State Senator Brandon Creighton (R-Conroe) filed SB 133 to create a “Second Amendment sales tax holiday. The pro-gun bill would create a tax exemption on firearms and sportsman supplies from the state’s sales tax during the last weekend in August, shortly before hunting season opens. Creighton filed a similar bill in the previous session, Breitbart Texas reported. The bill passed the senate 21-10 but died in the House Ways and Means Committee Chaired by Representative Dennis Bonnen (R-Angleton).
Representative Drew Springer (R-Muenster) filed a bill to eliminate many “gun-free zones,” Breitbart Texas reported. The bill, (HB 560) amends Texas Penal Code 30.06(e) and deletes section 46.03 titled “Places Weapons Prohibited.” The bill also amends 30.06(e) to delete reference to section 46.035 of the Texas Penal Code titled “Unlawful Carrying of Handgun by License Holder.”
Licensed gun holders are substantially less likely to use guns or commit a crime, Springer told Breitbart Texas. He said he believes that it is “crazy” for a hospital to prohibit the lawful carrying by a licensed holder when there are no metal detectors at the facility.
Springer filed another bill, HB 606, to provide immunity to property owners and business owners who choose to not prohibit guns on their property for Texans with a License to Carry (LTC) by placing the 30.06 and/or 30.07 signs at their entrances. Another bill filed by Springer, (HB 403) would remove the minimum caliber requirement for live fire testing to obtain or renew a LTC.
Other bills reported by the ILA include:
- Senate Bill 263 by Rep. Charles Perry (R-Lubbock) removes the minimum caliber requirement for the License to Carry proficiency exam. Currently, individuals seeking a handgun license are required to test with a .32 handgun or larger caliber.
- Senate Bill 349 by Sen. Creighton clarifies the definition of “school-sponsored activity” in the Penal Code to avoid the establishment of roving gun-free zones in buildings or areas that are not owned by or under the control of an educational institution.
- House Bill 56 by Rep. Dan Flynn (R-Van) would allow first responders with LTCs to carry in prohibited and posted locations while engaged in official duties.
- House Bill 339 by Rep. Dustin Burrows (R-Lubbock) eliminates original and renewal LTC application fees (similar to SB 16).
- House Bill 375 by Rep. Jonathan Stickland (R-Bedford) would allow individuals who are not prohibited by law from possessing a firearm to carry without a license.
Not to be outdone, Texas Democrats have loaded up with no less than nine bills deemed anti-Second Amendment by the ILA. “Don’t be fooled by attempts to package these bills as “sensible public safety measures” or “common-sense solutions to gun violence” – most, if not all of them are straight out of Bloomberg’s anti-gun playbook,” the ILA said in a written statement obtained by Breitbart Texas.
“(F)ormer New York City Mayor and billionaire Michael Bloomberg and his national gun control groups Everytown for Gun Safety/Moms Demand Action (along with their state partners at Texas Gun Sense), spent the interim plotting to bring misguided proposals to restrict your Second Amendment rights to Texas lawmakers.”
Those bills include:
- Senate Bill 221 by Sen. Jose Menendez (D-San Antonio) prohibits the transfer of a firearm to a person the transferor knows to be listed in the terrorist screening database maintained by the FBI – a secret government list that neither the state nor any individual has access to.
- Senate Bill 222 by Sen. Menendez designates June as “Gun Violence Awareness Month.” New York – home of gun bans, magazine restrictions and Everytown’s billionaire financier Bloomberg – is the only state to have adopted similar legislation, which gun control groups have used as a platform to promote themselves and their positions.
- House Bill 111 by Rep. Joe Moody (D-El Paso) requires the Department of Public Safety to create a “firearms safety educational program” involving the development and publishing of secure gun storage pamphlets to be distributed through federal firearm licensed dealers (paid for out of LTC program funds.) This is already required under federal law and the firearms industry offers free gun lock and safety information distribution to law enforcement departments across the country.
- House Bill 191 by Rep. Diego Bernal (D-San Antonio) reduces the minimum size, lettering and possibly the language requirements for 30.06 signs that have been in effect for over 20 years, and require them to be made available for download on DPS’ website. The net effect would be less effective notice for LTCs and more locations being posted off-limits to license holders. (The same requirements would apply to 30.07 signs as well.)
- House Bill 246 by Rep. Raphael Anchia (D-Dallas) returns “No Carry” signs to the days of the pictogram. The proliferation of such signs immediately after passage of Texas’ concealed carry law more than two decades ago was what lead to the creation of the more uniform, consistent and recognizable 30.06 signs in the first place.
- House Bill 255 by Rep. Anchia expands prohibited locations in statute for LTCs to include recreational areas and venues such as indoor or outdoor arenas, stadiums, golf courses, automobile racetracks, amphitheaters, auditoriums, theaters, museums, zoos and civic or convention centers.
- House Bill 259 by Rep. Anchia restricts the private transfer of firearms at gun shows – a favorite target of the gun control crowd – by requiring every transaction to be conducted through a licensed dealer involving extensive government paperwork and payment of an undetermined fee.
- House Bill 282 by Rep. Anchia & House Bill 391 by Rep. Donna Howard (D-Austin) allow public institutions of higher education to “opt-out” of Texas’ campus carry statute, effectively gutting the law the Legislature adopted just last session.
- House Bill 291 by Rep. Eric Johnson (D-Dallas) & House Bill 466 by Rep. Anchia, respectively, ban open carry by LTCs in the City of Dallas and allow municipalities with populations over 750,000 to “opt-out” of Texas’ open carry law.
Legislators have until March 10 to file additional bills.