Abbott said earlier this year that he would sign the bill, known as “constitutional carry.”
“The House was very proud of the version of the bill that we sent over and the Senate was very proud of the amendments that they added,” Rep. Matt Schaefer (R-Tyler), the bill’s author, told The Texan.
“We felt like some of the protections for law-abiding citizens were diminished in the Senate version, and so we fought to get some of that back.”
After the Senate approved the bill with a number of amendments tailored to concerns voiced by law enforcement, the bill returned to the House where Schaefer decided to send the bill to what is known as a “conference committee.”
In the conference committee, five members from each chamber worked out the differences in the two versions to create a compromise known as the conference committee report.
The ultimate version of HB 1927 contained many of the variations of the amendments that were included in the version passed by the Senate rather than what the House first approved.
As passed by the House, the bill would have created a defense to prosecution to protect individuals who accidentally carry a firearm in certain prohibited places but promptly leave after receiving personal notice about the prohibition.
When HB 1927 was brought to the House floor, some Democrats attempted to amend the bill to strip that policy, but the defense for people carrying handguns who leave after being personally notified was kept in the bill that was sent to the upper chamber.
But in an amendment that was accepted by all Senate Republicans, that measure was axed.
The final version added back in a limited version of the House’s defense to prosecution, but stipulated that such a defense is not applicable in scenarios where the location that weapons are prohibited displays a prominent sign at the entrance stating as much.
Under the final bill, individuals who carry a handgun in a place that has a sign prohibiting the carry of weapons but who leave promptly when asked to are still subject to a Class C misdemeanor and a $200 fine.
Several other of the amendments added by the Senate to HB 1927 were also included in the final version, including:
- A prohibition on carrying outside of one’s private property while intoxicated;
- A requirement for the Department of Public Safety (DPS) to create a free online firearm safety training course;
- Increased penalties for individuals who are prohibited from possessing a firearm and carry it in public;
- Individuals who are prohibited from carrying are expanded to include individuals convicted of a Class A misdemeanor for assault causing bodily injury, deadly conduct, or terroristic threats, or individuals convicted of a Class B misdemeanor for illegally discharging a firearm in a public place or displaying a firearm in a manner calculated to alarm;
- Removing a House amendment from Rep. Harold Dutton (D-Houston) to prohibit police officers from stopping individuals based solely on their carrying of a firearm.
The Senate version had also struck a provision added by Rep. Senfronia Thompson (D-Houston) to expunge criminal records related to unlawful possession of firearms, but the final version of HB 1927 included an amended version of Thompson’s addition that was more specifically tailored to laws related to the unlawful carrying of firearms that exist before September 1, 2021.
Though many of the Senate changes were kept or slightly tweaked, Schaefer still expressed optimism with the final version of the constitutional carry bill.
“Ultimately, I think it was beneficial for the House to go into conference, and not just concur with all the Senate amendments,” said Schaefer. “We have a better bill because we went to conference.”
“We came out with a bill that is strong and no doubt is the strongest restoration of Second Amendment rights that any of us have ever seen in the history of the state of Texas,” Schaefer told the House floor on Sunday night.
The final version in the House was approved in an 82 to 62 vote.
Reps. Ryan Guillen (D-Rio Grande City), Tracy King (D-Batesville), and Richard Raymond (D-Laredo) all voted for HB 1927, and although Rep. Terry Canales (D-Edinburg) was absent for the vote, he signed the conference committee report.
Rep. Morgan Meyer (R-Dallas) was the lone Republican vote against the bill, though Rep. Angie Chen Button (R-Richardson) voted present.
Dutton had voted for the earlier House version that included his amendment, but voted against the final version that had stripped his measure.
The Senate approved the final version of HB 1927 in an 17 to 13 vote along party lines on Monday.
Now that the legislation has been adopted by both chambers, it will make its way to the governor’s desk where Abbott has said he will sign it.
Once signed into law, the bill is set to go into effect September 1, 2021.
Timeline of Constitutional Carry in the 87th Legislature:
Feb. 12: Rep. Matt Schaefer (R-Tyler) files House Bill (HB) 1927.
March 15: HB 1927 is read for the first time and referred to the House Committee on Homeland Security and Public Safety, chaired by Rep. James White (R-Hillister).
March 25: HB 1927, along with three other constitutional carry bills, are heard during a marathon hearing in White’s committee.
April 1: White’s committee approves HB 1927.
April 12: The committee report of HB 1927 is filed and sent to the Calendars Committee.
April 15: HB 1927 is brought to the House floor for the first vote before the whole chamber and is approved in an 84 to 56 vote.
April 16: HB 1927 is formally approved by the House in a second vote before the chamber in an 87 to 58 vote.
April 19: HB 1927 is received in the Senate. Lt. Governor Dan Patrick says that the Senate does not “have the votes on the floor to pass it.”
April 22: Sen. Charles Schwertner (R-Georgetown) is given permission to file a new constitutional carry bill in the Senate, which is referred to the House Administration Committee, which Schwertner chairs.
April 23: A new “Special Senate Committee on Constitutional Issues” is created by Patrick, Schwertner is appointed as the chair, the committee is packed with Republican senators supportive of constitutional carry, and HB 1927 is referred to the committee.
April 27: Gov. Greg Abbott says he will sign the constitutional carry bill when it reaches his desk.
April 29: HB 1927 is heard and approved by the special committee, and Patrick says he will bring the bill to the Senate floor the following week.
May 5: HB 1927 is brought to the Senate floor and is approved in an 18 to 13, party-line vote, but with eight new amendments.
May 12: The House receives the bill back to its floor, refuses to concur with the Senate amendments, and requests a conference committee.
May 13: The Senate appoints its conferees for the committee.
May 21: Schaefer announces that the House and Senate conferees reached an agreement on what the final bill will look like.
May 23: The House approves the conference committee report in an 82 to 62 vote.
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Daniel Friend is a reporter for The Texan. He participated in a Great Books program at Azusa Pacific University and graduated in 2019 with a degree in Political Science. He has studied C.S. Lewis’s science fiction trilogy and in his spare time you might find him writing his own novel partly inspired by the series.