House Bill (HB) 1927 was approved by the state House earlier in April.
After moving to the upper chamber, Patrick initially said he would move the bill if the votes were there to pass it in the Senate.
But with mounting political pressure, he quickly created a new special Senate committee packed with pro-constitutional carry members and sent HB 1927 there to be heard.
On Thursday evening, the committee approved the bill in a five to two party-line vote as passed by the House, but Sen. Charles Schwertner (R-Georgetown) presented six amendments that he said will be brought to the floor.
“My goal today is to pass the House bill as engrossed because I believe in constitutional carry, but we need to have a discussion on amendments today to ensure that we have the votes to get this passed,” said Schwertner.
If approved by the other senators, those amendments would:
- Prohibit the carrying of a handgun while intoxicated;
- Remove the fee to obtain an LTC;
- Remove a section added on the House floor by Rep. Harold Dutton (R-Houston) that prohibits peace officers from stopping individuals based on the carrying of a firearm;
- Increase criminal penalties for felons and those convicted of family violence offenses who illegally carry a firearm;
- Increase enforcement mechanisms to prohibit the carrying of firearms in certain places such as schools, polling places, and hospitals;
- And require the Department of Public Safety to create a free online firearm safety training course.
“A few short weeks ago it was suggested that there was insufficient support to pass a constitutional carry bill out of the Texas Senate this session,” said Schwertner. “I personally refuse to accept that. I believe that we are willing to listen to one another and work together to get the job done.”
“We cannot allow another session to come and go where we pay lip service to the Second Amendment, while failing to fully restore and protect the God-given rights to our citizens. We simply can’t allow this opportunity to pass us by. This issue is far too important.”
During a radio interview with Dana Loesch, the lieutenant governor expressed similar optimism that Senate Republicans might secure enough votes in order to send HB 1927 to the governor.
Under the usual Senate process, legislation requires a five-ninths majority of 18 votes — something changed at the request of Patrick at the beginning of the legislative session to ensure Republicans maintain power — in order to be considered on the floor.
“We have 18 Republicans and there are 13 Democrats,” Patrick told Loesch. “To pass a bill, we need all 18 Republicans to support it, unless I pull a rabbit out of the hat — and I may have a rabbit out of the hat if I don’t have 18, but — so I can’t lose a vote.”
The lieutenant governor said that when the legislation originally passed the House, six senators were in favor, six were against, and six were undecided.
Now, Patrick says that there are at least a dozen senators backing the bill.
“No bill gets to the floor without me approving it getting to the floor,” said Patrick. “But at the same time it’s better for people to get there and be supportive of it.”
“I don’t go out there and bully someone into a must-vote. I try to bring them along, find out what their objections are, and bring them together so that they make that decision on their own.”
Patrick said that the Senate was “making a lot of progress” on HB 1927 and that he is “optimistic” about its success, though he didn’t want to say with absolute certainty that it will pass so that he doesn’t drive away any senators who are “on the fence.”
“As lieutenant governor, anytime we’ve had a vote without these 18 votes, we’ve always gotten them. Sometimes it takes a while, but I’m gonna bring this to the floor next week because we need to move it on,” said Patrick.
He said that HB 1927 should be moved to the floor mid-next week.
“It’s rare that I do this. Usually if you don’t have the votes for a bill, you don’t bring up a bill that’s going to lose. But this is an important issue and we’re going to bring it to the floor next week.”
For the senators who have not publicly stated their position on HB 1927, bringing the measure to the floor will put every senator — at least every senator who is present and part of the key five-ninths equation — on record about the issue.
Governor Greg Abbott said earlier this week that he will sign the constitutional carry bill when it reaches his desk.
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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.