87th LegislatureGunsState SenateTexas Senate Takes Unusual Steps on Constitutional Carry, Hearing Likely Next Week

The permitless carry bill passed by the House was referred to a new special committee that has a majority of its members publicly in favor of the pro-Second Amendment proposal.
April 23, 2021
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In a series of atypical actions, the Texas Senate has moved on the “constitutional carry” legislation passed by the state House to legalize the carrying of a handgun without a permit.

According to Sen. Charles Schwertner (R-Georgetown), who has emerged as a central figure in the potential Senate passage of the proposal, a hearing will be held next week in a new special committee to consider the bill.

The recent movement in the Senate has been fraught with some confusion.

Earlier this week, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said he was not moving the bill forward, saying that the measure lacked the necessary votes to be approved.

As the week went on, more pressure was put on the majority-Republican chamber by pro-Second Amendment activists and several GOP senators released statements in support of the House constitutional carry bill, House Bill (HB) 1927.

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A list of senators who have signaled their support for the measure can be found here.

Without objection on Thursday, the Senate suspended its rule pertaining to the deadline to file a bill in order to allow Schwertner to file Senate Bill (SB) 2224, a new version of constitutional carry, which was subsequently referred to the Committee on Administration that Schwertner chairs.

Three of the seven members on the Administration Committee — Sens. Schwertner, Drew Springer (R-Muenster), and Dawn Buckingham (R-Lakeway) — have publicly supported constitutional carry.

But with three Democrats on the committee who would likely oppose the proposal, arguably the most influential vote would have gone to Sen. Joan Huffman (R-Houston), who has previously opposed legislation to expand the carry of handguns.

Other constitutional carry bills filed by Sens. Bob Hall (R-Edgewood) and Drew Springer (R-Muenster) earlier this session had been referred to the Senate State Affairs Committee.

But the movement on constitutional carry didn’t end with the filing and referral of SB 2224.

On Friday morning, a new special “Senate Committee on Constitutional Issues” had been created with Schwertner as the chair and HB 1927 was referred to it.

“I am proud to chair the newly created Senate Committee on Constitutional Issues and look forward to hearing this bill next week so we can pass [Constitutional Carry] this session,” tweeted Schwertner.

Four other Republicans sit on the seven-person committee, and all have expressed support for constitutional carry or HB 1927: Sens. Brian Birdwell (R-Granbury), Buckingham, Brandon Creighton (R-Conroe), and Hall.

Only two Democrats sit on the constitutional issues committee: Sen. Chuy Hinojosa (D-McAllen), whose office told The Texan that he opposes HB 1927, and Sen. Eddie Lucio (D-Brownsville).

Though constitutional carry has the support it needs to pass out of the new special committee, it could still face a challenge in garnering an 18-member supermajority support needed to be brought before the whole chamber.

“There are still not enough votes in the Senate to pass a permitless carry bill,” said Sherry Sylvester, the senior advisor to Patrick.

“Today, Lt. Gov. Patrick established some additional options to move a bill forward. He will continue meeting with law enforcement, gun rights stakeholders and Senators on this issue to find consensus and the votes needed to pass.”

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Daniel Friend

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.