For those who haven't heard, there is a new bill in town. Paraded around as "Constitutional Carry," the TSRA-backed HB1911 is authored by Rep. James White. This new bait-and-switch bill has also been cosponsored by 5 of the 6 Republicans on the Homeland Security & Public Safety Committee.
When you compare White's bill to Rep. Stickland's HB375, it is clear that HB1911 is a far cry from Constitutional Carry. It is true that HB1911 will allow Texans to carry without an LTC, but the qualifications are drastically different. It is clear that members of the Texas House are pushing a watered-down version of HB375 in a desperate move to shut us up. Here's a tip, Austin; GIVE US CONSTITUTIONAL CARRY! This piece lays out the differences between Stickland's Constitutional Carry Act (HB375) and White's Compromised Carry bill (HB1911).
The qualifications to carry under HB1911 are as follows (my comments on each qualifier given in sub bullets):
- Must be 21 years old.
- Federal law dictates 18 years old as the minimum. You can sign up to fight and die for your country, but you can't possess the means to defend your own life.
- Has not had a felony conviction.
- It doesn't matter what the felony is, even if it's non-violent, or felony that would not otherwise prevent a person from legally possessing a firearm. Regardless, current State law already prohibits this.
- Has not been CHARGED with Disorderly Conduct or a Class B misdemeanor or higher.
- Despite the "innocent until proven guilty" doctrine to which we all subscribe, it is not the case when it comes to the God-given right to bear arms in the State of Texas.
- Not a fugitive from justice.
- Understandable, but this is not going to stop criminals from possessing one anyway.
- Not a chemically dependent person.
- This is unenforceable.
- Not incapable of exercising sound judgement.
- How do you enforce this? You can't.
- Has not had a Disorderly Conduct or a Class B misdemeanor or higher conviction within 5 years.
- Cursing and farting in public constitutes Disorderly Conduct and almost all Class B and Class A misdemeanors have nothing to do with firearms. These charges, even if convicted, would not prohibit anyone from legally possessing a firearm under federal law.
- Is fully qualified under federal and state law to purchase a handgun.
- This is the only requirement that should ever be in place.
- Not delinquent on child support payments.
- Rights are not contingent on child support. Rights are rights.
- Not delinquent on taxes to the State of Texas.
- Anyone who owns a business knows how easy it is to fall behind on taxes. A simple oversight can disqualify someone from exercising their right to bear arms.
- Not restricted under a restraining order affecting a spousal relationship.
- Again, innocent until proven guilty. No crime needs to be committed to receive a restraining order.
- Has not had a felony adjudicated within 10 years.
- Regardless, existing law prohibits this.
Compare the above list to HB375's only qualifier that one must legally be allowed to possess a firearm under federal and state law. It is important to note that under Penal Code §46.04, felons can only possess a firearm on their property after 5 years of their conviction. You can see the drastic difference between the two bills. White's bill, HB1911, continues to treat the RIGHT to bear arms as a privilege. Stickland's bill, HB375, returns your rights to you in full.
HB1911 also adds Penal Code Section 30.08. This would prohibit "a person not licensed to carry [a] handgun" from entering a business. It does not stipulate between open or concealed carry in any way. Anyone carrying without a license is completely barred from entry. HB375, on the other hand, changes the wording of sections 30.06 and 30.07 to say "person in possession of" a concealed (for 30.06) or openly carried (for 30.07) handgun. While we don't agree with how either bill addresses this issue, adding a new regulation instead of reforming existing ones will only add more problems.
One other important aspect absent from HB1911 (besides the whole Constitutional Carry part) is what's commonly called the "Dutton Amendment." Last Session, Rep. Harold Dutton (D-142) proposed an amendment to the licensed open carry bill that would prohibit police from detaining an individual solely because they were openly carrying. This amendment was ultimately struck down. In Rep. Stickland's HB375, the same Dutton Amendment language exists and will protect anyone from being detained and/or disarmed by law enforcement for merely having a handgun on their hip. If HB1911 becomes law, police will have the authority to detain you for open carrying. Will they use this authority as an excuse to check if you're behind on child support and taxes? They are, after all, some of the qualification factors for carrying under HB1911.
Here are a few other things missing from HB1911 that HB375 addresses:
- HB375 allows for concealed carry on college campuses without an LTC.
- HB1911 still requires an LTC to concealed carry on college campuses.
- HB375 defines carrying while intoxicated as having the same meaning as driving while intoxicated.
- HB1911 does not address the existing open-ended law.
- HB375 repeals the authority of municipalities to regulate firearms in public parks and at political rallies.
- HB1911 extends the authority to regulate those without an LTC.
- HB375 repeals the requirement for a license holder to show his LTC when demanded for identification.
- HB1911 does not repeal this requirement.
- HB375 repeals the "belt and shoulder holster" language for open carry (it just says "holster" now), which gives Texans freedom of choice in how they carry.
- HB1911 uses the existing "belt and shoulder holster" language.
HB1911's Committee Substitute DOES completely repeal the TABC requirements for the "unlicensed possession" signage we are all familiar with. That said, Rep. Stickland's HB375 Committee Substitute takes care of this as well, making this a moot point.
What these two bills boil down to is simple. Stickland's HB375 is truly the only Constitutional Carry bill that exists in the Texas Legislature. White's HB1911 has severe flaws. As I laid out above, it continues to treat our right to bear arms as a privilege instead of a right. It's quite easy for any person to get behind on taxes or child support. It is also quite easy for any persont to be "Charged" with a Class A or B misdemeanor. The mere charge suspends your rights until either you prove yourself innocent or until 5 years passes after your conviction.
We cannot allow them to ignore our voice! Call the Committee members below and demand they stop treating your rights as privileges. HB1911 is a bad bill that they are trying to trick us with. That means it is time to get loud!
Call these members of the Homeland Security & Public Safety Committee Monday through Friday between 8am and 5pm. Tell them to reverse their support for a bill that strips your rights away for being late on child support or taxes! The right to bear arms is a right; NOT a privilege. Tell them Lone Star Gun Rights sent you!
- Chairman Phil King - 512-463-0738
- Rep. DeWayne Burns - 512-463-0538
- Rep. Justin Holland - 512-463-0484
- Rep. John Wray - 512-463-0516