AUSTIN, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – After a constitutional carry bill initially stalled in the Texas Senate, a new special committee on constitutional issues formed by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick held a hearing on the measure Thursday.
The legislation, House Bill 1927, was approved by the full House.
If approved and signed into law, it would allow those who pass a background check and over the age of 21 to carry a handgun without having a license or training as required now.
The committee’s Chair, Sen. Charles Schwertner, R-Bryan, who supports the bill, outlined it during the hearing. “HB 1927 recognizes the U.S. Constitution as our permit to carry. It allows all law-abiding adults to carry a handgun for the protection of themselves and their families.”
Sen. Juan Hinojosa, D-Edinburg, raised concerns. “Quite frankly, what I think you’re doing puts an officer in danger because under this bill, anybody quite frankly can have a gun and carry a gun in a holster.”
The hearing, which began at 9 a.m. and was expected to continue through the night at the Capitol, attracted nearly 200 people on both sides of the issue.
One supporter who’s serving in the military said, “I want the committee to pass Constitutional Carry so that active-duty personnel don’t lose their 2nd Amendment rights when they move to Texas.”
A pastor who opposes the legislation said, “As faith leaders, we’re the ones who bury the dead, who pray with and console the grieving families and we are present in our communities shattered by gun violence, and we’ve had enough.”
While most Democrats oppose the measure, there’s a lot of political pressure on Patrick and Senate Republicans from State Party Chair Allen West to get this passed.
Last week, a senior advisor to the lieutenant governor said there weren’t enough votes in the Senate to pass the bill.
This week, Gov. Greg Abbott broke his silence on the bill and told the Rick Roberts Show on Newstalk 820 WBAP in Dallas that he’s backing it. “I support it and I believe it should reach my desk and we should have Constitutional Carry in Texas.”
A variety of Texas police chiefs, including Eddie Garcia of Dallas, oppose the bill.
Texas Democratic Party Chair Gilberto Hinojosa said the governor knows this. “When he’s given us rhetoric all the time, but you know, the Democrats are not for law enforcement, he ignores the great majority of police chiefs in the state of Texas, we’re saying this is a bad law.”
The legislation is expected to be approved by the Senate committee and sent to the full chamber.
On Thursday, the lieutenant governor told radio talk show host and former NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch that the full Senate will debate the bill next week.
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No word yet if more senators will support the measure now that Abbott has announced he is backing it.