The 87th Texas Legislature Was a Solid Legislative Session for Gun Rights
The 87th session of the Texas state legislature ended on a relatively positive note for gun rights after numerous pro-Second Amendment bills that grassroots have long pushed for finally ended up passing.
Daniel Friend of The Texan covered the most significant gun bills passed this session. He started off by mentioning Constitutional Carry, the Holy Grail of Second Amendment legislation that has long eluded conservative activists prior to 2021. In 2021, Texas finally broke its legislative plateau after Governor Greg Abbott signed HB 1927 into law.
The “Firearm Carry Act of 2021”, also known as “Constitutional Carry” now allows Texans 21 years or older who can legally own a handgun to carry said weapon in public without a License to Carry (LTC). In passing Constitutional Carry, Texas became the 21st state to adopt this legislation.
The gun bill to receive the most attention this session has been House Bill (HB) 1927, titled the “Firearm Carry Act of 2021” but commonly referred to as “constitutional carry.”
Friend also highlighted another expansion in gun rights that took place during this legislative session:
Under current law, individuals with or without an LTC are legally allowed to carry a handgun with them in their vehicles but it can only be in plain view if it is holstered to an LTC holder.
HB 1407 broadens the penal code to allow a handgun in a motor vehicle or watercraft to allow a holstered handgun to be kept in plain view regardless of whether or not it is holstered on the individual.
Alongside the constitutional carry bill, the change will apply to both LTC holders and anyone over the age of 21 who can legally possess a handgun.
A few bills were approved by lawmakers that will expand the LTC program and clarify some parts of state code.
Further, Friend listed off several reforms to the LTC program that expanded its scope:
HB 2675 requires the Department of Public Safety (DPS) to expedite LTC applications for individuals who are “at increased risk of becoming a victim of violence” and are protected under a court order.
Similarly, HB 918 expands the LTC program to allow applications from individuals who are 18 years or older, are under active protective court orders, and are otherwise eligible for the carry permit.
Friend also listed off some other bills that liberalized gun ownership in the Lone Star State:
The Texas legislature also approved House Bill (HB) 2112 and Senate Bill (SB) 550, which removes the specific language in state code that handguns must be worn in a “shoulder or belt” holster, allowing individuals to utilize any type of holster.
HB 1069 creates a program by which first responders in less populous counties are permitted to carry a handgun while performing their responsibilities.
School marshals also have an expanded ability to carry weapons on the job instead of stowing them thanks to SB 741 and HB 781.
Framed as “Second Amendment Protections for Travelers” when listed among Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s top priorities for the session, SB 20 will require hotels to allow guests to store their firearms in their rooms.
Similarly placing Second Amendment rights over private property rights, HB 4346 would prohibit restrictions of carrying firearms or alcohol on easement holders.
With HB 2622, the state is declaring itself a “Second Amendment sanctuary.”
Some of the more important non-Constitutional Carry bills passed were Second Amendment sanctuary, Texas-made suppressor deregulation, and disaster declaration bills, which Friend outlined:
A number of bills passed by the legislature took aim at current or potential ways firearms could be regulated in Texas.
The bill would prohibit state and local government entities from enforcing certain types of potential federal firearm regulations that are not included in state code, such as background checks on private transfers or gun confiscation programs.
HB 957 would exempt Texas-made suppressors from federal regulations surrounding noise-reducing accessories.
One of the few changes made to the Texas Disaster Act, the underpinning part of state code that was used by Abbott to address the pandemic, was HB 1500, which removes the governor’s ability in state code to regulate firearms during a disaster declaration.
Near the start of the pandemic last year, some localities attempted to force the closure of gun stores as “non-essential” businesses, but those measures received pushback from statewide elected officials when Attorney General Ken Paxton released an opinion that deemed gun stores as “essential.”
With Texas passing Constitutional Carry and similar pro-gun laws, Texas has only solidified its position among its peers such as Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi as one of the most pro-Second Amendnent states in the South and by extension, the nation.
The next step for Texas to maintain its position as a Second Amendment leader is to fully embrace the nullification of federal gun control laws.