AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) - A new Texas House Bill that would allow Texans to carry a firearm without a permit has a chance of becoming law this year.
Texas House Bill 1911 has been passed out of the House Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee. It is now waiting for the full vote of the house.
“So, right now if you want to either conceal carry or open carry in Texas you have to undergo a license requirement, meaning that you have to provide finger prints, go through about four to six hours of training and then go through a gun range and do a shooting proficiency,” said Jeanette Arpero, criminal justice professor at WTAMU.
This bill would no longer require people to carry a license for a firearm when outside of their home or vehicle, and training would be optional.
“This has already passed through the legislative body; it just has to get on the Calendar for Committees to go before them for the final approval vote. The person that is going to be presenting it to them is the author of the bill itself. So, it would seem that it would have a lot higher chance of passing this time then it did in 2017,” said Ryan Neusch, licensed to carry instructor in Amarillo.
In 2017 the house considered a similar bill, but it didn’t pass. At the time the legislative budget board said it could cost the state $30 million in lost licensed fees. Now the board says they cannot make an accurate estimate of the costs.
“There currently is a licensing fee and actually that was part of the reason why this bill hasn’t passed in the past. That was one of the criticisms that was brought forward is the licensing fees to the state of Texas, and we don’t really know what the fiscal impact might be if it was no longer required,” said Arpero.
Training classes would still be available for people who want them.
People would also still have to have a permit when traveling to other states that require them.
“I believe what House Bill 1911 is looking at is saying okay well if we require people to have a license, we require them to take a class, we require them to pay the state a fee, we require them to renew every five years; all of these things, ‘Are these infringements upon what the constitution says?’” said Neusch.
Neusch says currently there are 18 states that do not require permits.
“Critics of the bill say that it might undermine public safety. A different study did note that there was a 13 to 15 percent increase in violent crime and safety in states that do have right to carry laws. Such as what that Texas bill was proposing,” said Arpero.
On the other hand Arpero says, “Gun right advocates are saying that it is a step towards full restoration of the second amendment right which they find to be really important, especially here in Texas. They’re also alleging that it is necessary for self-defense in the wake of recent mass shootings. That’s something that comes to the forefront of most Americans minds.”
It would still be illegal for people with criminal backgrounds, domestic violence charges, and convictions against them to carry a firearm.