When Texas House Speaker State Rep. Dade Phelan (R–Beaumont) announced that he would appoint Democrats to chair various House committees, most in the gun community feared a repeat of what happened in the past legislative sessions.
Former Speaker Dennis Bonnen appointed former Rep. Poncho Nevárez, a Democrat, to chair House Homeland Security Committee during the 86th legislative session. The House committee discharges matters related to gun regulation, law enforcement, crime, and terrorism.
A constitutional carry proposal was referred to the committee but Nevárez never gave it a hearing, leading to its premature death. Bonnen’s predecessor Joe Straus also appointed a Democrat to chair the committee killing the constitutional carry bill.
At the start of the 87th legislative session, concerned Republican legislators wrote to Speaker Phelan, urging him to prioritize conservative issues, which include the second amendment.
Reps. Kyle Biedermann (R - Fredericksburg), Tony Tinderholt (R - Arlington), and freshmen Bryan Slaton and Jeff Cason signed the letter. Rep Biedermann proceeded to file the Personal Protection & Safety Act, House Bill 1238, granting non-prohibited persons the right to carry without a permit.
Unlike his predecessors, Phelan was methodical in his committee chair appointments. Now the second amendment and constitutional carry seem to have cleared one major obstacle and there’s fresh hope for permitless carry in Texas.
Speaker Phelan appointed State Rep. James White (R–Hillister) to chair the House Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee. Rep. White is a proponent of expanded gun rights and especially constitutional carry. He even sponsored a permitless carry bill in 2017 that would have allowed any non-prohibited person eligible to carry without a permit.
Other Public safety House committee members also strongly support expanded gun rights in the Lone Star State. Reps. Cole Hefner (R–Mt. Pleasant), Jared Patterson (R–Frisco), Matt Schaefer (R–Tyler), and Tony Tinderholt (R–Arlington) were endorsed by various gun rights groups.
The new appointment could not have come at a better time. The Biden administration promised to institute various gun control measures that would undermine Americans’ second amendment rights. However, several legislators filed various pro-gun bills that would require passing the committee stage, which was a major hurdle in the past.
Rep. Matt Krause (R – Fort Worth) and Rep. Tom Oliverson (R – District 130) filed the “Made in Texas” House bills 915 and 957, respectively. The bills exempt firearms not involved in interstate commerce and suppressors made locally using raw materials sourced in Texas from federal laws. A similar bill, SB 543, was filed by Sen. Drew Springer in the state Senate.
Similarly, State Reps. Krause and Steve Toth (R–The Woodlands) filed second amendment sanctuary bills HB 635 and HB 112 prohibiting state and local authorities from enforcing federal anti-gun laws in the Lone Star State. Rep. Ben Leman (R -District 13) filed HB 919 prohibiting the enforcement of gun control laws that do not exist in Texas.
However, Democrats swore to oppose pro-gun proposals and filed more than three dozen anti-gun laws in the House. While most of the suggested gun control bills have no chance of passing, it’s imperative to remain vigilant and avoid becoming complacent. We must keep sending them a strong message that there’s no place for unconstitutional gun control laws in Texas.
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