After an emotionally charged legislative session in 2015, two gun laws were passed, but not without contentious debate. One said, it would allow the open carry of handguns in Texas and the other permitted concealed carry of handguns on Texas college campuses. Now, State Rep. Jonathan Stickland, (R-Bedford) is pushing House Bill 375 which would see some changes.
House Bill 375 would allow all Texans the right to openly carry a firearm, with or without a permit. House Bill 375, also known as a constitutional carry, would leave the choice up to the resident if they want to bypass the licensing process and the classes required to obtain a gun permit. Stickland believes that Texans shouldn’t be forced to pay fees and take classes in order to exercise their Second Amendment rights.
Opponents, mainly Texas Democrats, argue that these new laws that Stickland proposes are pointless and serve no good purpose. State Rep. Stickland said, “Carrying a firearm is a big personal responsibility, and taking a couple of classes for a couple of hours doesn’t mean you’re necessarily ready to carry.”
If passed, Texas would be the 11th state to allow constitutional carry.
A spokeswoman for Moms Demand Action, Nicole Golden of Austin, who rallies for stricter gun control, plans to fight House Bill 375. She argues that the bill wouldn’t allow people to know if someone has a gun permit or even is trained to shoot a gun. Golden said, “That obviously concerns those of us who live and raise our families in Texas.”
Texas was the 45th state to allow open carry of handguns as of January 2016, per Senate Bill 17. This allowed some 826,000 handgun license holders to openly carry their weapons in a hip or shoulder holster. However, an open carry requires a permit and that is what Stickland is trying to change.
Stickland said, “For most gun owners, they put more time and training into it than the state mandates. We just think it’s time to restore the constitutional rights to Texas.”
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott refused to comment on where he stands on House Bill 375. Spokeswoman for the Governor, Ciara Matthews, said the governor “will always consider legislation aimed at preserving our right to keep and bear arms.”
In the past, Gov. Greg Abbott did support training and background checks for Texans that wanted to open carry.