The Lone Star State seemed destined to become the 19th with a permit-less carrying law on the books, after the state House passed HB 1927, one of the more modest Constitutional Carry bills submitted this session and a long-awaited priority for grassroots Republicans.
That is, until it reached an impasses in the Texas Senate. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick announced that the Senate may not have the votes to clear it, while many Senators have remained non-committal.
That path forward may involve deliberation in a newly formed committee. Seemingly overnight, the Senate Special Committee on Constitutional Issues was created. Assigned to it was the House-approved Constitutional Carry bill (HB 1927) and members Sens. Charles Schwertner (R-chairman), Brian Birdwell (R), Dawn Buckingham (R), Brandon Creighton (R), Bob Hall (R), Chuy Hinojosa (D), and Eddie Lucio (D).
The creation of the committee came just hours after Schwertner announced he filed a Constitutional Carry bill of his own — although 2A activists had been cautiously watching Sen. Drew Springer‘s permit-less carry bill in the powerful State Affairs committee.
From the hip: The newly created special committee is a conservative one, with the two Democrats being the more rightward of the minority party. The pro-Second Amendment credentials of the Republican committee members are without question.
But it must be the mechanics of the House bill being scrutinized by the LiteGuv. Given the timing of Schwertner’s bill filing (after the bill filing deadline of March 12 — the presiding officer of the Senate is the lieutenant governor, an elected position, and is not bound by the Senate rules) Schwertner’s bill must either contain the provisions Patrick wants to see in a Constitutional Carry bill or is being used as a ram rod or bargaining chip. A careful analysis of the text of each Senate bill may determine that.
So far HB 1927 is the only bill in the new special committee. Watch here to see any updates.
Even if a bill is agreed to by either State Affairs or the new special committee, Senate bills typically require the consent of 18 out of 31 votes to even reach the floor. As of now, there are 18 Republican Senators, and not all of whom are steadfastly pro-Constitutional Carry. For a bill to get to the floor and then be approved it has to pass the muster of the whole spectrum of Republican opinion on the issue — no small task, but one that is better hashed out in committee rather than the floor.
Given Patrick’s preference for the term “permit-less” over “constitutional,” he may be the biggest hurdle of all. Patrick is known for supporting more middle-of-the-road firearms policies, including federal background checks. Stay tuned, and look for subtle clues in Patrick’s future statements that may give clues as to what he expects in a Constitutional Carry bill.