Constitutional Carry in Texas is dead for another two years.
Even worse, other good gun bills such as HB560, the “carry everywhere” bill, died in committee.
None of these bills were voted down in the traditional sense, by the overwhelmingly Republican state legislature. Rather, House Republican Leadership simply denied them the opportunity of an up-or-down vote.
These officials are to blame.
Speaker Joe Straus
As Speaker of the House, Rep. Straus determines the leadership of each committee, and is responsible for assigning bills to committees. In this case, he diverted two constitutional carry bills, as well as HB560, to Rep. Phil King’s Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee.
Rep. Phil King, Chairman of the House Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee
As Chairman, Rep. King is responsible for bringing bill up for a vote early enough in the session so that there is time to schedule them for a floor vote and send them to the Senate. Rep. King never scheduled HB560 for a vote. He worked to delay both constitutional carry bills as long as possible. HB1911 was watered down and ultimately passed out of committee, but by that point it was too late for it to make it to a floor vote.
Rep. Todd Hunter, Chairman of the House Calendars Committee
Rep. Todd Hunter is responsible for bringing bills that have passed committee to the floor for a full member vote. He had time to schedule HB1911 for a floor vote, but failed to do so.
To be clear, none of these bills would have been killed if not for Speaker Straus’ failure to lead in accordance with the wishes of Republican voters. It is foolish to blame the Democrats, when Republicans have a 95 – 55 majority in the House, and a 20 – 11 majority in the Senate.
In 2017, your freedom to keep and bear arms in Texas remains lagging behind behind other states, and your Republican leadership is to blame.
Knife Ban Repeal Update
HB1935, which would repeal our outdated blade length and double-edge restrictions, has passed the House and is now in the Senate Criminal Justice Committee. The Committee is chaired by one well-known to this publication, Democrat Sen. John Whitmire.
Sen. Whitmire has been a tough opponent at times, but as Dean of the Senate, he is reasonable and commands a great deal of respect among his colleagues. A criminal law expert, Sen. Whitmire was responsible for rewriting the Texas Penal Code several years ago when it needed to be updated. Please call his office at (512) 463-0115 and respectfully request that he schedule HB1935 for a vote. Considering that Sen. Whitmire is a Democrat, you might mention the following talking points:
- Under current Texas law, one can openly carry a .45 ACP pistol or an AK-47, but a 3″ pocket knife with a double-edged blade may be considered an illegal “dagger,” which is not defined in the statute.
- Knife laws like this are used by law enforcement to charge criminal defendants when evidence of a serious crime is lacking. This practice disproportionately affects minorities. For instance, Freddy Gray, whose arrest and subsequent death in a police van led to civil unrest in Baltimore, was arrested for suspicion of carrying an illegal knife.
- The Penal Code does not clearly define the characteristics of an illegal knife, but relies heavily on antiquated terms like “dirk,” “stiletto,” and “poniard.”
- As amended in committee, this bill still prevents the carry of a long-bladed (over 5.5″) knife in places where such things would be inappropriate, such as a bar.
- Finally, the bill passed the House with overwhelming bipartisan support, 131-1.
We received new information that Sen. Whitmire has signed on as a cosponsor of the knife repeal bill, so it’s likely to pass. Please call and thank him for his support!
Also, if you’re in Austin, HB1935 is scheduled for a hearing in the Senate at 3:00PM in E1.004 (Capitol Auditorium). Please go and register your support and, if you’re prepared to do so, testify.