“We gathered today at what truly is considered to be the cradle of liberty in the Lone Star State,” said Abbott.
The governor said they were holding the press conference “where men and women put their lives on the line, and they lost their lives, for the ultimate cause of freedom.”
“They fought for freedom. They fought for liberty, and that includes the freedom to be able to carry a weapon.”
Legislation that the governor signed, which will all go into effect on September 1, includes:
- Senate Bill (SB) 19: prohibits state agencies and political subdivisions from contracting with any business that discriminates against firearm businesses or organizations.
- SB 20: requires hotels to allow guests to store their firearms in their rooms.
- SB 550: removes the specific language in state code that handguns must be worn in a “shoulder or belt” holster, allowing individuals to utilize any type of holster.
- House Bill (HB) 957: exempts Texas-made suppressors from federal regulations surrounding the noise-reducing accessories.
- HB 1500: removes the governor’s ability in state code to regulate firearms during a disaster declaration.
- HB 1927: the “constitutional carry” bill that allows nearly all Texans over the age of 21 who can legally possess a handgun to legally carry it in public without a special permit.
- HB 2622: the “Second Amendment sanctuary” bill that prohibits state and local government entities from enforcing certain types of potential federal firearm regulations that are not included in state code.
“[The Alamo defenders] knew the reason why somebody needed to carry a weapon was far more than just to use it to kill game that they would eat. They knew as much as anybody the necessity of being able to carry a weapon for the purpose of defending yourself against attacks by others,” said Abbott.
The governor pointed to the ongoing border crisis as a reason for Texans needing to be armed to defend themselves “against cartels and gangs and other very dangerous people.”
“When you consider that, you can understand why we are pushing back against this narrative across America,” said Abbott. “[Some] government officials are saying, ‘Heck yes, government is coming to take your guns.’ Texas will not let that happen.”
A host of Republican lawmakers were at the press conference, including Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and House Speaker Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont), as well as the authors and sponsors of the bills that were signed.
Also in attendance was Wayne LaPierre, the executive vice president of the National Rifle Association (NRA) who is in legal battles trying to leave New York to reincorporate the gun group in Texas, and Jack Wilson, the armed church-goer who stopped a gunman at his church in White Settlement.
The hall at the Alamo where the bill was signed was also filled with a large number of pro-Second Amendment advocates in support of the bill.
When a reporter asked Abbott if the signing took place at the Alamo instead of Austin where most bills are signed because of a recent gunfight between two groups of teenagers that injured bystanders, he was promptly booed by the audience.
“He must be from out of state,” said Abbott to a round of laughter. “You could say that I signed into law today some laws that protect gun rights, but today I signed documents that instill freedom in the Lone Star State.”
But Abbott told the reporter that he wasn’t going to “dodge the intent of your question.”
“I had the opportunity to visit with the family members of the person who lost his life,” said Abbott. “The family members are heartbroken about what happened.”
“But the family members were adamant about two things. One, do not let this crime committed by teenagers be a reason to eliminate gun rights in the United States of America. The second thing they told me is they were adamant also that they were against policies that defund police in our cities.”
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick was also asked by a reporter about why he didn’t push for extended background checks to cover “stranger-to-stranger” gun sales as he advocated in 2019, but Patrick didn’t directly say if he still supported the policy.
“We want people who have a right to carry a gun to be able to access a gun and carry that gun with them to defend themself,” said Patrick. “And all of us [. . .] want those who shouldn’t have a gun not to have a gun.”
Asked about it again, Patrick said, “there was not a bill filed to my knowledge, so that’s why it didn’t get passed.”
Patrick thanked Rep. Matt Schaefer (R-Tyler), the author of HB 1927, for his vision on the bill, as well as Sen. Charles Schwertner (R-Georgetown), who carried the bill in the Senate.
“1927 is a model for the nation,” said Patrick. “Let’s get the other 29 States to join the first 21.”
Phelan likewise extended his gratitude to Schaefer and Schwertner, as well as the pro-Second Amendment groups like the NRA and Gun Owners of America that pushed for the legislation.
“My only regret this session is I couldn’t vote for these bills,” said Phelan.
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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.