The Texas Senate is expected to a bring pro-gun open carry bill to the floor for a vote as early as Monday. The move comes after the 60-day bill filing period ended on Friday. The Texas Legislature may now vote on and pass any bills. Before the first sixty days has passed, the Legislature may only approve bills on issues designated as “emergency items” by the Governor.
One bill being considered for early passage is an open carry bill written by State Senator Craig Estes (R-Wichita Falls). The bill (SB 17) which passed a committee vote earlier in the session would allow of open carry of firearms by people who have concealed handgun licenses (CHL). “I am very confident the Senate will pass the bill and we look forward to making it at the discretion of the licensee whether he is to carry concealed (or) open,” said Sen. Estes said in an article in the Amarillo Globe-News.
“Two years ago they did this in Oklahoma, and for the sheriffs this has been a non-event, no problems,” Estes said.
While covering a news story about the beheading of an office worker by a radicalized Muslim in Moore, Oklahoma, last fall, Breitbart Texas observed some residents engaged in this practice of open carrying by CHL holders. The residents told this writer they were happy with the new law in Oklahoma. “We carry openly everywhere we go and it does not cause any commotion or concern among the general public,” the Oklahoman said. “We would like to see full open carry, but this was a good step in the right direction.”
“The Second Amendment says it protects the right to keep and bear arms,” said Breitbart News Network’s AWR Hawkins, “it does not say anything about being limited to the protection of the right to keep and bear concealed arms only. Yet when a state–be that state Texas, or another–limits its residents to concealed carry only, that is exactly what they are implying; they are saying the right to keep and bear arms only applies to arms that are hidden from sight.”
A companion bill was introduced in the Texas House by Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee Chairman Larry Phillips (R-Sherman). That bill (HB 910) is expected to have its public hearing in committee on Tuesday. Chairman Phillips told Breitbart Texas he expects the bill to pass out of his committee where it will move on to the Calendars Committee.
Calendars Committee Todd Hunter (R-Corpus Christi) has told this writer repeatedly he will move any pro-gun bills through Calendars to the House Floor for a vote.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott has said he will sign the open carry bill into law if it reaches his desk.
A “Constitutional Carry” bill (HB 195) filed by State Representative Jonathan Stickland (R-Bedford) is not expected to pass this year. Much damage was done to the hope of passage of this bill by the conduct of its most strident supporters. Breitbart Texas has previously reported on the behavior of the Open Carry Tarrant County group that has taken a radicalized stance on the issue of open carry without a license. Another leader in the movement of open carry is Open Carry Texas which has publicly denounced the behavior of the Tarrant County group. Many legislators became concerned after the Open Carry Tarrant County group’s leader, Kory Watkins, published a video that many felt was threatening to lawmakers.
During a Guns Across America rally at the Texas Capitol in February many open carry activists told this writer they believed Watkins may have single-handedly killed the opportunity of passing open carry without a license this session.
“I think they counted the noses and they know they have the votes to get it done,” said State Representative Drew Springer (R-Muenster) said in reference to Estes’ bill coming to the Senate floor. “I would look at the make-up of that (Homeland Security & Public Safety) Committee, it will easily make it to the floor of the House and I think it will pass. That’s my prediction, open carry will pass. I don’t see any clouds in the sky.”
The bill is expected to pass closely along party lines with most Democrats voting against open carry.
This article has been updated with additional information.
Bob Price is a senior political news contributor for Breitbart Texas and a member of the original Breitbart Texas team. Follow him on Twitter @BobPriceBBTX.