Bills Allowing Permitless Carry and First-Responder Carry Advance

Texas State Capitol

A Texas House committee has approved legislation that would allow handguns to be carried—concealed or in a holster—without a state-issued license. Also, the Texas Senate has passed SB 1408, a bill to allow first responders to conceal carry.

The just-passed version of HB 1911’s permitless carry provisions approved by the House Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee contained several substantial changes from previous versions.

• To carry without a permit, gun owners would have to meet existing LTC standards: be 21 years of age or older, have no criminal convictions, and be eligible to purchase a weapon under federal and state laws. The previous version would have allowed guns to be carried by those 18 and older.

• Churches and places of worship would no longer be prohibited places to carry a gun, unless they posted 30.06 and/or 30.07 signs.

• Handguns carried in the open would still be required to be kept in a holster, but the restrictions on them being in belt or shoulder holsters would be loosened.

“This bill simply creates an unlicensed option to carrying a handgun,” said Rep. Phil King, R-Weatherford., chairman of the committee.

A competing bill, House Bill 375 by Rep. Jonathan Stickland, R-Bedford, wasn’t considered for a vote. Stickland’s legislation would allow anybody who legally owns a firearm to carry it without a license—a much broader franchise than what’s being considered in HB 1911.

“We understand that for the most part Texans are satisfied with the current carry laws we have now. However, there is still a significant number of Texans who believe that if you’re a law-abiding citizen, you shouldn’t necessarily have to buy your way to a right to bear arms through a license,” Rep. James White (R-Hillister) told the Austin American-Statesman.

Over in the state senate, SB 1408, brought by Senator Don Huffines (R-Dallas), would allow first responders to carry a handgun on duty if they have Licenses to Carry (LTC) and have completed a special on-duty first responder training course that will be approved by the Texas Department of Public Safety.

Senator Huffines said, “As first responders answer our cries for help, we cannot leave them exposed to attack. First responders do dangerous work, and sometimes come under fire. In a time in which our police are targeted just because of their uniform and badge, we must not leave first responders disarmed and exposed to danger, either.”

If you feel that either piece of legislation should continue, please contact your representative and voice your support for these measures.