Texas lawmaker proposes constitutional carry for special session

Adding recently filed constitutional carry legislation to the special 30-day session is now in the hands of Gov. Greg Abbott (Photo: Texas Governor’s office)

Adding recently filed constitutional carry legislation to the special 30-day session is now in the hands of Gov. Greg Abbott (Photo: Texas Governor’s office)

Supporters of permitless handgun carry in the Lone Star State have a glimmer of hope with a new bill introduced this week — if the state’s avowedly pro-gun governor plays ball.

Republican state Rep. Jonathan Stickland proposed HB 296 on Monday to allow adults otherwise lawfully able to possess a firearm under federal and Texas laws to carry a handgun concealed or openly without a permit.

Stickland backed a permitless carry measure during the regular session, but it and a similar bill failed to make it to the floor before Texas House Speaker Joe Straus gaveled the chamber to a close. Now, with Gov. Greg Abbott calling lawmakers back to work for a special session, advocates are hopeful the governor will add the gun expansion to his list of items to focus on during the legislative overtime.

“It’s time for Republicans to stop being all hat and no cattle,” Open Carry Texas President CJ Grisham told Guns.com on Monday. “As Governor Abbott once said, ‘the issue of gun control was settled in 1791.’ Well, now it’s time to prove it.”

According to the Texas Constitution, only subjects and items directed by the governor can heard, and gun rights expansions were not one of the 20 issues mandated in Abbott’s marching orders to the legislature. This means the bill’s only hope is if the first-term Republican chief executive — who has often espoused support for Second Amendment legislation — manages to amend his list.

While costs for the state’s one million handgun licensees were lowered and knife reforms signed into law already this year, movement on permitless carry withered on the vine in the face of opposition from the Texas Police Chiefs Association and gun control groups.

The special session began last week and will conclude in 30 days. If Stickland and his supporters cannot move the needle on constitutional carry, the subject may be moot until the 86th Texas legislature convenes in 2019. An exception to this is if Abbott keeps lawmakers in for another session, which is not unprecedented. In 1989, Gov. Bill Clements called six special sessions to consider over 100 items.