Will 2021 be the year Texas moves to Constitutional Carry? Though such bills have been proposed in the Texas Legislature every session since 2015, the idea gained traction for the first time this year during the 87th Regular Legislative Session.
2021 House Bills
Four House bills proposing Constitutional Carry were heard in the House Committee on Homeland Security & Public Safety. Of these four bills, two were voted out of committee and referred to the full House. HB 1911 by White and HB 1927 by Schaefer were the winning bills, but only HB 1927 was calendared for debate on the full House floor. On April 16, 2021, the House passed HB 1927 with a strong majority (and some bipartisan support), and the bill was transmitted to the Texas Senate.
2021 Senate Bills
Aside from the transmitted HB 1927, two senators filed Constitutional Carry bills. However, neither of those bills were heard in a Senate committee. Instead, the Senate chose to focus its attention on HB 1927, which passed quickly out of committee and made it to the Senate floor for debate on May 5, 2021. After nearly eight hours of debate and 27 proposed amendments, the bill was passed with eight amendments by a party-line vote of 18 Yeas to 13 Nays.
All Eyes on HB 1927
Governor Greg Abbott has publicly stated that he will sign Constitutional Carry if it makes it to his desk. Done deal, right? Not quite. Because the Senate altered the bill during floor debate, it must now go back to the House for a reconciliation vote. Should the House not pass the reconciled bill, it will move to a conference committee of selected Senators and House members to hash out issues and come to an agreement. Assuming these legislators can agree on the wording of the new law, at that point HB 1927 can move to Governor Abbott’s desk to be signed or vetoed.
The Who, What, Where, and When?
Although we cannot yet predict what a final Constitutional Carry bill will look like or whether it will become law at all, we can make some educated guesses about what the law might entail based on the version that just passed the Senate. Generally speaking, such a bill will likely grant persons 21 years of age and older who can legally purchase and possess firearms under federal law the right to carry a handgun without a permit. However, the Senate amended the bill to include a five-year “carve-out” period for persons convicted of certain misdemeanor crimes before they can engage in Constitutional Carry. It appears that gun-free zones would be largely preserved as we know them today, and the law would go into effect on September 1, 2021. The future of the bill should reveal itself rapidly during the month of May, and the Governor has until June 20 to sign or veto bills. You can track the progress of HB 1927 at Texas Legislature Online, which provides a detailed breakdown of the bill’s history.
We are monitoring the situation closely as it continues to develop. For more information, stay tuned for updates or call U.S. LawShield and ask to speak to your Independent Program Attorney.
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