Leaders of open carry groups were confident that House Bill 910 would proceed through the Senate State Affairs committee on Monday; however, leaders of these groups vary as to their confidence of the open carry bill’s eventual passage. The leaders of these groups warn Texas Legislators about any failure to pass the bill.
Testimony was taken before the Senate State Affairs committee in the Texas Senate Chamber.
C J Grisham, president and founder of Open Carry Texas told Breitbart Texas that he told his members not to come to Austin to testify before the State Affairs committee.
Grisham said he “knew we had the votes, and I did not want to belabor the process.”
Terry Holcomb, Executive Director of Texas Carry told Breitbart Texas that he also told his members they did not need to testify.
Both leaders told their members they could come to the Senate committee hearing but asked them to just fill out cards to record their support of the bill.
Both Grisham and Holcomb testified before the committee, as did representatives of the Texas State Rifle Association and the National Rifle Association (NRA). A few county constables and sheriffs also testified for the bill.
Chief Art Acevedo, Police Chief from Austin, Texas, and a board member of Everytown for Gun Safety, testified against the open carry bill.
Women from Moms Demand Action formed a long line to testify against the bill.
While both Grisham and Holcomb were confident the bill would be reported favorably out of the Senate State Affairs committee, they differed in their level of confidence that the bill would eventually become law.
Grisham told Breitbart Texas he believes the open carry bill will pass. When asked how confident he was about his statement, the Open Carry Texas founder responded “almost 99 percent plus.”
Grisham said “I’ve never been worried about whether open carry is going to pass this year. It would be political suicide for leaders of the Texas House and Senate not to pass open carry this session.”
Holcomb from Texas Carry was not so confident.
Holcomb describes himself as “the open carry preacher working tirelessly for values this country was built on.” He said he personally procured 80 signatures of Texas House legislators for support of the bill.
The Executive Director of Texas Carry from Coldspring, Texas, said “While open carry looks promising, there is still politics involved.” He said open carry “overwhelmingly has the votes.”
Holcomb continued, “If open carry fails, it will be 100% leadership’s fault.” He specifically named Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, President of the Senate, and Texas State House Speaker Joe Straus.
The vote in the Senate Affairs committee was 5-1 to be reported favorably. The sole nay vote was from Senator Judith Zaffirini (D-Laredo).
The amendment added by House Representatives Harold Dutton, Jr. (D-Houston) and Matt Rinaldi (R-Irving) was taken out of the bill by the Senate committee. It would have banned investigatory stops or temporary detentions for the purpose of inquiring into whether a person who was carrying a partially or wholly visible handgun in a shoulder or belt holster possessed a concealed handgun license (CHL).
Richard Briscoe, Legislative Director for Open Carry Texas told Breitbart Texas that while he would have preferred the amendment to have remained, it is more important to pass the bill.
Briscoe said “While the purpose of the amendment was to provide clarity, the law remains the same.” He added, “Police officers cannot unlawfully detain someone who is lawfully carrying a handgun.” He said it would “violate the Fourth Amendment” and “would be the same as stopping a driver that was not speeding in order to ask to see his driver’s license.” He said the law already protects against unlawful stops and detainments.
Because the amendment has been stripped from the open carry bill, it goes back to the House where it will be voted on without the amendment.
Proponents of the open carry bill are concerned about getting the bill passed before the end of the legislative session. Moreover, while they are for campus carry, they are afraid that opponents of open carry may amend the bill in the House to include campus carry in an attempt to kill the bill.
The issue of campus carry is one that is split among major Texas universities.
CJ Grisham told Breitbart Texas “I’m for ALL gun rights. Since retiring from the Army, I’m now a full-time student and it’s absurd I can’t lawfully defend my fellow students if, heaven forbid, we had an active shooter.” Grisham continued, “I’m not worried about the amendment. I don’t think they’re going to do that, but it should pass even if they do.”
This article has been updated.
Lana Shadwick is a contributing writer and legal analyst at Breitbart Texas. Follow her on Twitter @LanaShadwick2