Source: NRA Institute for Legislative Action
This week, the Texas Senate passed Senate Bill 11, sponsored by state Senator Brian Birdwell (R-Granbury), and Senate Bill 17, sponsored by state Senator Craig Estes (R-Wichita Falls). Both bills were passed by a vote of 20 to 11. These landmark “campus carry” and “open carry” bills now move to the Texas House for consideration. The House Committee on Homeland Security & Public Safety held hearings this week on House Bill 937, sponsored by state Representative Allen Fletcher (R-Tomball), and House Bill 910, sponsored by state Representative Larry Phillips, the House companion campus carry and open carry bills, however neither have received formal action yet. Gun control advocates are pulling out all the stops to defeat these important bills in the House, so be on the lookout for important action items from your NRA-ILA in the coming weeks!
Senate Bill 11 removes certain restrictions in state law that prohibit law-abiding adult Concealed Handgun Licensees from protecting themselves on college and university campuses. During the years in which the Legislature has failed to pass campus carry legislation, high-profile shootings have occurred at the University of Texas at Austin and several blocks from the Texas A&M campus in College Station, and a stabbing incident in which more than a dozen people were wounded took place at Lone Star College’s Cy-Fair campus. These locations are currently classified as ‘gun-free zones,’ but in reality, they are simply places where CHLs are rendered defenseless against criminals under current law. The Senate rejected amendments to allow public universities to “opt-out” of the law and to carve out prohibited locations on campus that are not already off-limits to CHLs under state statutes.
Senate Bill 17 removes the requirement that CHLs keep their handguns concealed and gives them the option of carrying them either wholly or partially visible in a belt or shoulder holster. Texas CHLs have earned this personal protection option that forty-three states currently allow after having established a 20-year record of law-abiding, responsible behavior. The Senate rejected amendments to allow localities to “opt out” of any open carry law and requirements that CHLs who choose to carry openly use law enforcement-style retention holsters.
Also this week, the Senate passed Senate Bill 273, sponsored by state Senator Donna Campbell (R-New Braunfels), on a 26 to 5 vote. SB 273, if passed by the House, would complete unfinished business from last session and provide much-needed clarity for CHLs in Texas. This important legislation imposes civil fines on state agencies, cities or counties that improperly post 30.06 signs prohibiting CHLs from public property which is not off-limits to them under the Texas Penal Code. It also gives the Attorney General or local district attorney the ability to sue to collect those civil penalties if the offending agency or political subdivision failed to remove the signs after having been notified of a violation. The House companion measure, House Bill 226, sponsored by state Representative Ryan Guillen (D-Rio Grande City), was reported out of the House Homeland Security & Public Safety Committee this week and has been sent to the House Calendars Committee.