The Texas House of Representatives made history last Friday when it passed legislation that would largely strike down the permit requirement to carry a handgun in public in the Lone Star State.
Commonly referred to as “constitutional carry,” the permitless carry measure passed by the lower chamber, House Bill (HB) 1927, would apply to individuals over the age of 21 years old who can legally possess a handgun.
The House approved the bill with a final tally of 87 to 58 — including one Republican who voted against it, Rep. Morgan Meyer (R-Dallas), and seven Democrats who supported it, Reps. Terry Canales (D-Edinburg), Harold Dutton (D-Houston), Ryan Guillen (D-Rio Grande City), Tracy King (D-Batesville), Eddie Morales (D-Eagle Pass), Leo Pacheco (D-San Antonio), and Richard Peña Raymond (D-Laredo).
But though the proposal flew through the House this year, it has hit some snags in the Senate where Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick indicated that he is not moving the bill forward at the moment because it does not have enough support to be voted off of the floor.
In order for the legislation to make it to the Senate floor, it would need the support of 18 out of 31 members — the same number of Republicans in the body.
The new battle between House and Senate Republicans over permitless carry is shaping up to look similar to a battle that took place two years ago.
In 2019, Rep. Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont) — now the speaker of the House — also sent a permitless carry bill of sorts to the Senate at the protest of a handful of Republicans.
The legislation authored by Phelan was not as wide-sweeping as HB 1927, but allowed handguns to be carried without a permit for up to a week during an evacuation after a state of disaster had been declared.
After passing the House, it was amended by Sen. Brandon Creighton (R-Conroe), who carried the bill in the upper chamber for Phelan.
Creighton’s amended version — which would only allow permitless carry in cases of mandatory evacuations, require weapons to be concealed, and limit the timeframe to 48 hours — was initially approved by the Senate in a 23 to 8 vote, with support from all Republicans and three Democrats: Sens. Carol Alvarado (D-Houston), Chuy Hinojosa (D-McAllen), and Eddie Lucio (D-Brownsville), though Alvarado later formally stated that she intended to vote no.
But the changes made in the Senate were scrapped by the conference committee, which sent back the originally passed, less-restrictive House version for final approval.
Sen. Joan Huffman (R-Houston), who sat on the conference committee and along with Lucio didn’t approve reverting it to the House version, reportedly said that Phelan’s permitless carry bill for disaster evacuations was “really, really poor public policy that is not well thought out.”
When Phelan’s bill came back to the Senate, it passed in a 16 to 15 vote, but all Democratic senators and two other Republicans joined Huffman in opposing it: Sens. Robert Nichols (R-Jacksonville) and Kel Seliger (R-Amarillo).
Should Huffman, Nichols, and Seliger remain united in opposing permitless carry for one week during an evacuation, let alone any amount of time for most Texans, HB 1927 could see its death in the Senate.
Since the GOP lost one Senate seat last November, if all Democrats and those three Republican senators oppose HB 1927, they would be able to shoot down another conference committee maneuver with a 16-vote majority.
To gauge support for permitless carry in the Senate, The Texan contacted all 31 state senators requesting their position on HB 1927 as passed by the House.
Members were specifically asked to respond with any of the following options:
- “Yes, I support HB 1927.”
- “No, I do not support HB 1927 and would not support permitless carry in any form.”
- “No, I would only support HB 1927 if some revisions were made.” Please specify what provisions would be necessary for your support.
Offices of half of the Senate Republicans responded with statements in support of constitutional carry, but the three key GOP members to watch based on the 2019 vote — Huffman, Nichols, and Seliger — did not reply.
Meanwhile, offices of the two Democrats who supported the Creighton-amended version of the disaster carry bill — Alvarado and Hinojosa — said that they opposed HB 1927.
The full list of responses asking senators if they support HB 1927 as passed by the House can be found below. If a member replied after the deadline, an asterisk will appear next to their name.
|Bryan Hughes (R)||1||Statement||"Yes, I support Constitutional Carry"|
|Bob Hall (R)||2||Yes||"Senator Hall is in support of HB1927."|
|Robert Nichols (R)||3||Did not reply.|
|Brandon Creighton (R)||4||Statement||"18 states have constitutional carry including Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont. Texans deserve no less in the ackowledgement and validation of their 2nd amendment rights. The U.S. Constitution is our license to carry. I support Constitutional Carry and look forward to the debate on the details of the bill from being approved in the Texas House."|
|Charles Schwertner (R)*||5||Yes|
|Carol Alvarado (D)||6||No||“No, I do not support HB 1927 and would not support permitless carry in any form.”|
|Paul Bettencourt (R)||7||Statement||"Senator Bettencourt supports giving Lt. Gov Patrick time to have his meetings with Stakeholders of all parties next week."|
|Angela Paxton (R)||8||Yes||"Senator Paxton has let constituents know since Friday that she is supportive of House Bill 1927 as passed by the House. Final vote decisions on legislation are based on the Committee Report version of the bill and any proposed floor amendments."|
|Kelly Hancock (R)||9||Yes|
|Beverly Powell (D)||10||Did not reply.|
|Larry Taylor (R)||11||Did not reply.|
|Jane Nelson (R)||12||Did not reply.|
|Borris Miles (D)||13||Did not reply.|
|Sarah Eckhardt (D)||14||Did not reply.|
|John Whitmire (D)||15||Did not reply.|
|Nathan Johnson (D)||16||Did not reply.|
|Joan Huffman (R)||17||Did not reply.|
|Lois Kolkhorst (R)||18||Yes|
|Roland Gutierrez (D)||19||Did not reply.|
|Chuy Hinojosa (D)||20||No||"Senator Hinojosa does not support HB 1927."|
|Judith Zaffirini (D)||21||Did not reply.|
|Brian Birdwell (R)||22||Yes|
|Royce West (D)||23||Did not reply.|
|Dawn Buckingham (R)||24||Yes||"I support House Bill 1927 and Senate Bill 540. I have publicly expressed support for constitutional carry in dozens of events across Senate District 24. I'm a proud joint author of Senate Bill 540. The defense of our Second Amendment rights has always been a priority for me, and always will be."|
|Donna Campbell (R)||25||Did not reply.|
|José Menéndez (D)||26||Did not reply.|
|Eddie Lucio (D)||27||Did not reply.|
|Charles Perry (R)||28||Statement||"Sen. Perry will be voting for the constitutional carry bill."|
|Cesar Blanco (D)||29||Did not reply.|
|Drew Springer (R)||30||Yes||"I will vote for House Bill 1927 and I strongly support Constitutional Carry. Let me be very clear: I filed Senate Bill 540, which is Constitutional Carry and a companion to HB 1927. Texas needs to be the 21st state with Constitutional Carry. I have filed over a dozen pro-2A bills in the Texas Senate and stand strong in my support for the Second Amendment for ALL Texans. Defending the rights of firearm owners is — and always has been — one of my top priorities."|
|Kel Seliger (R)||31||Did not reply.|
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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.