According to Nathan Josiah of Gun Owners of America, Constitutional Carry bill (HB 357) is languishing in the State House.
Constitutional Carry (HB 357), introduced by pro-gun Champion Jonathan Stickland, would restore the gun rights of law-abiding Texans by removing the permit to carry a concealed firearm.
At first glance, it looks like Texas leadership, including Speaker Dennis Bonnen, does not want to prioritize Constitutional Carry or any legislation that drastically advances the gun rights of Texans.
HB 357 was originally assigned to the Homeland Security and Public Safety committee on February 22, 2019. Curiously, Speaker of the House Dennis Bonnen named seasoned anti-gun Democrat Poncho Nevarez as the chair of the Homeland Security Committee. This move has rightfully earned Bonnen flack from pro-gun organizations such as Lone Star Gun Rights, who were “not surprised” by Bonnen’s decision.
As expected, Nevarez has been promising for weeks that the bill will be receiving a hearing “soon”. Now the Chairman of Homeland Security Committee announced that HB 357 will receive a hearing likely in April. Because of House deadlines and the quickly approaching May 27 session end date, Constitutional Carry appears to be on “life support” in Texas according to Nathan Josiah. On top of that, there is no companion bill in the Texas Senate.
Although Bonnen is not the main culprit behind Constitutional Carry’s lack of traction, Justin Delosh, the co-Founder and Legislative Director of Lone Star Gun Rights, said that Bonnen is still “the guy that could get Constitutional Carry moving”.
Delosh pointed out as well that Bonnen is also capable of placing “roadblocks” on Constitutional Carry. One of these roadblocks is Bonnen’s appointment of anti-gun Democrat Poncho Nevarez to the Homeland Security Committee.
In Delosh’s view, Nevarez will be used as a “strawman” by Bonnen in the case that pro-gun legislation like Constitutional Carry dies in committee. This way, Bonnen gets political cover for not letting Constitutional Carry legislation through and he can just pin the blame on Nevarez, who he ironically put in power in the first place.
With rival states like Oklahoma recently passing Constitutional Carry earlier this year, gun rights activists in Texas have become frustrated that their state is lagging on the issue of Constitutional Carry. Delosh also highlighted that part of this frustration is due to the fact that the Texas Republican Party has put Constitutional Carry as their “#1 legislative priority”, but the political class in Austin has not gotten the memo.
Derek Wills, the Senior Editor of Lone Star Gun Rights, also reiterated that Republic Party Chairman James Dickey “has been an outspoken supporter of Constitutional Carry” and that the failure of Constitutional Carry’s passage in Texas lies in Republican elected officials in Austin.
Concerns of Texas becoming the next Florida, a formerly pro-gun state where former Republican Governor and now U.S. Senator Rick Scott signed expansive gun control , have also been raised by activists across the state. Delosh believes that full-blown gun control won’t be signed under Governor Greg Abbott’s watch, but that red flag or other legislation “wrapped under the veil of security” could be signed instead.
If legislators in Austin don’t get on the same page with the state party and move Constitutional Carry out of committee, it looks like gun owners in Texas may be in for another legislative season of disappointment.
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