Texas is on the verge of becoming the 21st – and largest – state to recognize that a permit isn't a requirement to be able to legally carry a firearm.
The Lone Star State's polarizing permitless carry measure, HB 1927, was approved by the Texas state Senate on Thursday in an 18-13 vote along strict party lines. Importantly, the bill had already been greenlit by the state House last month. However, as the measure was amended this week while on the Senate floor, it will need a final vote in the lower chamber to send it to Gov. Greg Abbott, who has already said he would sign the proposal.
"HB 1927 would recognize the United States Constitution as our permit to carry and allow all law-abiding adults, aged 21 years or older, to carry a handgun for the protection of themselves or their families, in public places, in a holster, without the requirement of a state-issued license," said state Sen. Charles Schwertner, R-Georgetown, one of the bill's sponsors.
While almost 30 amendments were considered in floor debate to HB 1927, eight were ultimately adopted to address concerns from the law enforcement lobbyists and lawmakers who were on the fence. Chief among the amendments would be to enhance penalties for the illegal carry of a handgun by convicted felons and domestic abusers, as well as to add a five-year carry ban for those convicted of certain violent misdemeanors or reckless firearm use.
Texas currently has a may-issue permitting system, with a License To Carry being required for both concealed and open carry. LTCs cost $40 and have a mandatory training requirement, the latter providing steady fodder for over 3,600 state-approved instructors. As of the end of 2020, there were more than 1.6 million LTCs in circulation.
The push for constitutional carry in Texas has spanned most of the past decade, with bills introduced across the past several sessions only to be left to die on the table. In the meantime, the number of states moving to recognize lawful concealed carry without a government-issued permit has grown exponentially. In 2002, just one state, Vermont, had such a law on the books. Currently, no less than 20 have rescinded their requirements for a concealed carry permit, with four – Iowa, Tennessee, Montana, and Utah – adopting permitless carry so far this year.