Now the Texas Senate has joined them.
Some doubt had been cast on the possibility of the legislation passing after Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said that the votes did not exist to pass the bill, but ultimately, Senate Republicans rallied around the legislation to pass House Bill (HB) 1927 in an 18 to 13 vote on Wednesday.
The passage of HB 1927 did not come without the Senate making some changes, though.
Sen. Charles Schwertner (R-Georgetown), who is the sponsor of the bill that ushered it through in the upper chamber, announced his intention to bring the amendments during proceedings last week.
All of the amendments that were backed by Schwertner passed with the full support of Republicans and Democrats.
If included in the final version of the bill, the amendments will:
- Prohibit the carrying of a handgun while intoxicated;
- Removes the oral notice provision that was included in the House version which would not have penalized individuals for carrying in prohibited areas unless they refuse to leave after being told the carry policy;
- Require the Department of Public Safety to create a free online firearm safety training course;
- Increase the criminal penalties for felons and those convicted of family violence offense who illegally carry a handgun;
- Expand the list of those who may not carry a handgun to include individuals who were convicted in the past five years for a terrorist threat, deadly conduct, assault causing bodily injury, or disorderly conduct with a firearm from carrying without a permit under the bill;
- And remove sections added on the House floor by Democrats to prohibit peace officers from stopping individuals solely based on the carrying of a firearm and a requirement to expunge certain criminal records.
Schwertner had also said that an amendment would be offered to remove the fee required to obtain a License to Carry, but that amendment never came up.
However, earlier in the day, Sen. Joan Huffman (R-Houston) filed legislation that would accomplish the same thing.
The bill will be headed back to the House, where the lower chamber can either agree with the amendments or send the bill to a conference committee where a few members from each body will work out the differences.
If the House accepts the amendments, the legislation will be sent to the governor, otherwise a final version from the conference committee will need to be approved by both chambers.
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, amended, and approved in an 18 to 13 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.