Senate Bill (SB) 2247 from Sen. Joan Huffman (R-Houston) was approved by the upper chamber last week in an 18 to 12 vote.
Under current law, an LTC is required in order to carry a handgun in public.
The process to obtain an LTC includes several hours of online or in-person training on firearm laws in Texas, passing a test on firearm safety and laws, passing a shooting proficiency test, submitting an application and fingerprints to the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS), and passing a federal background check.
Aside from the fees for the test — which can cost around $60 — and the usual $10 fee for fingerprints, the DPS requires a $40 fee to submit the LTC application.
The application cost was lowered from $140 in 2017, and if Huffman’s bill is approved by the House, the application fee will be completely eliminated.
Sen. Charles Schwertner (R-Georgetown), the Senate sponsor for the constitutional carry bill, said that he planned to add an amendment to his bill that would eliminate the LTC fee.
That amendment was never added, but shortly before the constitutional carry bill was brought to the Senate floor, Huffman’s bill was filed.
A deadline in the chamber’s rules typically precludes bills from being filed this late in the legislative session, but the Senate can — and in this case, did — suspend its rules to make an exception.
Some pro-Second Amendment advocates had raised concerns that adding the free LTC provision as an amendment to constitutional carry would have set the bill up for procedural delays because of stricter rules in the House.
SB 2247 is similar to a bill filed at the beginning of the session by Rep. Charlie Geren (R-Fort Worth), which was never acted on beyond being referred to a committee.
According to the bill’s fiscal analysis — something that Democrats in the Senate were keen to point out on Friday — DPS projects a loss of revenue of about $19.6 million per year.
That analysis is based in part on an assumption that the number of LTC applications will increase proportionally to the increase in applications seen after the legislature trimmed down the fee in 2017.
If the constitutional carry legislation is signed into law this year, the LTC program will remain in effect for any Texans who may wish to obtain a license.
An LTC can be used for reciprocity purposes — that is, to be able to carry in some states that recognize Texas’ handgun license but do not allow for permitless carry.
Proponents of the proposal also argue that if constitutional carry becomes law in Texas, removing the fee associated with the LTC will encourage more firearm owners to receive the instruction offered through it.
The House has until Saturday, May 22 to report SB 2247 out of a committee and it has until Tuesday, May 25 to approve the legislation in the whole chamber.
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Daniel Friend is the Marketing and Media Manager for The Texan. After graduating with a double-major in Political Science and Humanities, he wrote for The Texan as a reporter through June 2022. In his spare time, you're likely to find him working on The Testimony of Calvin Lewis, an Abolition of Man-inspired novel and theatrical podcast.