Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin (courtesy texastribune.com)

“The Texas Legislature starts voting on a large number of bills this week, and one proposal that might be on the Senate floor as early as Monday would allow Texans with concealed handgun licenses to carry their firearms in full view,” amarillo.com reports. The bill should be a slam dunk. “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,” state Sen. Craig Estes said in reference to his Senate Bill 17. “Two years ago they did this in Oklahoma, and for the sheriffs this has been a non-event, no problems.” And for those of you who need a reminder which party supports gun rights and which doesn’t . . .

The upcoming vote is expected to be strictly or mostly along party lines; all or most Republicans in the Senate and later in the House are expected to vote for the open carry bill and all or most Democrats are expected to vote against it . . .

“My hope is that we have a true discussion and debate and not preconceived ideas because there may be things that we can do to those bills, like an opt-out provision or even in an opt-in provision,” [Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, above] said. “We ought to have a real discussion and not just preconceived ideas.”

State Sen. Judith Zaffirini — who as a member of the Senate State Affairs Committee voted against the open carry and campus carry bills on Feb. 12 — said she is hopeful her Republican colleagues will agree to a dozen amendments she filed so that both proposals can have bipartisan support.

“If crucial amendments were added to those bills, I can vote for them,” Zaffirini, D-Laredo, said. “For open carry, I can possibly vote for it if we see every municipality has the opportunity to opt in or opt out.

“You know, we talk about local control and local option and you see, in some municipalities in the rural areas it might be all right. In small farming communities, that’s OK. … But do you want open carry in downtown Houston or in the border?”

Yes? Yes! Governor Abbott has already declared his intention to sign any open carry bill that lands on his desk. This one allows residents holding a license to carry from a state with reciprocity with Texas to open carry in the Lone Star State. Crucially, it also include a new 30.07 sign which private businesses may post to ban open carry – and only open carry – on their premises, as follows.

A) a card or other document on which is written language identical to the following: “Pursuant to Section 30.07, Penal Code (trespass by license holder with an openly carried handgun), a person licensed under Subchapter H, Chapter 411, Government Code (handgun licensing law), may not enter this property with a handgun that is carried openly”; or
(B) a sign posted on the property that:
(i) includes the language described by Paragraph (A) in both English and Spanish;
(ii) appears in contrasting colors with block letters at least one inch in height; and
(iii) is displayed in a conspicuous manner clearly visible to the public at each entrance to the property.

Although it never had much of a chance, a bill for permitless or Constitutional Carry died early on in the legislative session, not helped by an “invasion” of Rep. Poncho Nevarez’s state house office. Campus carry had more of a chance, but it too fell afoul of cries of foul play and organized opposition.

Baby steps. Watch this space for the eventual ‘Open Carry in Austin’ series.

51 Responses to TX Legislature Set to Vote on Permitted Open Carry

  1. Finally. Do you have any idea how hard it is to conceal carry a decent sized handgun in a state where jacket weather only lasts a week?

  2. Municipal control over open carry is a nightmare. When I lived in Missouri, you could literally be carrying openly lawfully on one side of the street, and be a felon on the other side of the street. It created such a treacherous legal minefield in Missouri that the state finally did away with it last fall, and established state-level preemption.

    So, no, Senator Zaffirini: your proposal is an utterly horrendous suggestion, that can only serve to create opportunities to turn law-abiding people into felons.

    • How many times have you driven down the highway and seen a sign reading “[insert random town] city limits”, only to drive a few mile futher and see that you are again entering the same town?

      Unless there are drawn lines on the ground notifying you of every city’s ending and beginning boarders, you are all but forced to not OC. Which is the whole point, I am sure.

      • As a matter of fact, that happens a lot in the D-FW “Metroplex”. All kinds of small municipalities along the FW-Arlington-Dallas corridor, with absolutely no “break” between them. I wouldn’t be surprised to find a big shopping center with one end in Arlington and the other in Pantego or some such.

    • That would be her whole point and reason for it. To turn me and my fellow Texas gun owners into felons.

  3. From Bone’s book “The Lani People” he says, “”In every society,” Kennon went on inexorably, “there are potential freeman and potential slaves. The latter invariably outnumber the former. They’re cowards: the timid, the unsacrificing–the ones that
    want peace at any price–the ones who will trade freedom for security.”

    That’s an imagined security!

    Now we see what Texan politicians are made of, by how they vote.

    If we are ever invaded, they’ll be glad enough to have our protection!

      • There has already been one, and they did indeed surrender, at least in my neck of the state. All I have to offer as proof, is the stack of forms printed in 2 languages at every county, and city “office” in the 4 counties around me.

  4. Why is there a need for a permit at all? AZ has had open carry for years without issue, and to think that ‘big, bad Texas’ doesn’t for fear of…………what?

    • Old laws designed to keep blacks and other “undesirables” disarmed. Plus a TX carry permit is expensive, and with no state income tax they aren’t going to get rid of that particular cash cow.

      • The more likely answer is simply that it takes an official permit with an oh so important and effective background check to get the linguini spine crowd to go along with concealed carry at all. Yes, the criminals will carry regardless, but it’s also true that hyper emotional and other citizens of non-thought will balk at allowing carrying at all, unless there are these silly feel good measures in place. Licensing is what it took to get concealed carry, so licensing is what it takes to get open carry. As for the money angle, it’s an argument, but a weak one.

        Consider that the Texas Department of Public Safety (our state police) runs the Concealed Handgun License (CHL) program. From published Texas budget figures, the program generates about $14.8 million per year in license fees. The annual DPS budget is approximately $185+ million. So CHLs bring in less than 8% of the department’s annual revenue. Acknowledging that the program does incur costs itself, as processing a quarter million apps annually, plus monthly maintenance background checks on everyone, isn’t exactly cheap, we can agree that the $14.8 million figure gets whittled down quite a bit by the time you’re calculating any kind of “profit” for the state.

        Aside for that, the “licenses mean money” hypothesis conflicts with major revisions to firearms laws in recent years in Texas. For one, Texans may, since 2007, if I recall the year correctly, carry a concealed firearm without a license in their vehicles. Some people only ever intend to carry in their car, anyway, and never on their person, and would only get a license for that narrow purpose. Passing that law would only serve to reduce license fees. More recently, in the last legislative session, the law was changed in 2013 to offer new reduced CHL fees to peace officers, correctional officers, members of state military forces, and veterans of the armed forces. Now, maybe the politicians were trying to buy votes by reducing fees. Perhaps, but the point remains that reducing some fees and resulting CHL revenue did happen. So it’s not always or entirely about license revenue.

        Finally, in 2013, the state eliminated the requirement for a course and proficiency demonstration for CHL renewals. That cut off a special $5/per course hidden fee the state received, since renewal can now be done online and without attending any instructor’s class. By economics, removing renewal courses as a requirement would tend to reduce the number of CHL instructors in the business. Such a provision would also reduce DPS instructor license revenue, as instructors must have an even more expensive license from DPS. In fact, the number of active CHL instructor licenses did decrease in 2014, as fewer instructors opted to renew and fewer others sought initial instructor certification. (2014’s decrease in active instructor licenses was the first annual decrease since 2008.) So again, if money were the only motivation for licenses, then the legislature has a funny way of passing revenue-reducing bills.

        Really, it just comes down to licenses being a feel good compromise to get this thing done.

        • Interesting–now it’s starting to look like a grabber conspiracy to require a license to carry but running all the necessary “instructors” out of business. [Removing tin-foil hat] OTOH, hadn’t realized they had made it so easy to renew…

      • The CHL system is not a cash cow for Texas. It barely makes enough to pay for itself. I suppose the fingerprinting and classes do provide additional tax revenue though.

      • And power. Government will “lose” money in order to gain and maintain power. If they can usurp authority and hold it long enough, people will be reluctant to insist that government relinquish it.

        Money is the short term answer and power/control is the long term answer, IMHO.

      • Soooo the politicians in states without permits are what, less greedy than those in states which do require permits for carrying? How’d they get the selfless, non-greedy, good guy politicians and we didn’t?

      • Saw an interview with a “concerned gun owner” on the news one night about this. He was going on about how people needed to be properly trained in order to effectively use guns. Funny thing was, he was standing in front of a sign advertising for CHL licensing and gun training, with a logo very similar to the one on his shirt.

  5. Here’s what I have a problem with: “A) a card or other document on which is written…”

    So the restaurant owner just has to have something as small as a BUSINESS card with these words on it and suddenly I’m a felon for open carrying in his establishment? I don’t mind the “big-assed sign with 1″ letters” so much now that THIS wording is being tossed about!

    • No, not a felon, as this would be a misdemeanor trespassing charge, not a felony.

      No, not suddenly, either, as once you are presented with such a card, it is only your further refusal at that point, either to cease open carrying or to leave the premises, that could trigger the criminal trespassing charge. You would have to make that conscious decision upon receiving notification to ignore it or even openly tell the owner or his rep to F off.

      It’s not simply you sitting there enjoying your meal, open carrying, and someone hands you a card and slaps cuffs on you in a single swift motion.

      It’s not an exact analog, but in 20 years if concealed carrying as the law of the land in Texas, I’ve never seen or even heard of anyone being handed the counterpart card directing against concealed carry. Even 30.06 signs banning CC are extremely rare. I can only name one place that has one. I wouldn’t worry too much about card or signs forbidding OC,

    • I actually like the idea, and if you’ll bear with me, I bet you will, as well. So you take your family and your 5 best friends out for dinner and drinks, and then, over dessert, get a bit warm so you remove your jacket before making several trips to the loo to relieve yourself of all your excesses, while packing your now-exposed full sized 1911. When ordered to leave, say “oh, darn!” and head out the door. While I expect those cards would be in the fire very quickly, it ought to work once or twice! I bet I could run up a $500-700 bill in an hour or two, really too bad I can’t pay it, but there’s this card you gave me, I wouldn’t break any law by stopping at the cashier.

  6. Baby steps while a tiger is chasing you. Good Luck with that.

    Y’all might have been better off if permitted OC didn’t pass. It’s very possible that your support will be split and the numbers pushing for constitutional OC reduced after this becomes the norm.

    Anywho, it seems like what Texans want for themselves… So, a genuine congratulations.

  7. As an Arizonan, I am deeply and truly upset that the best Texas could pull together was permitted open carry.
    the fact that over 40 states have permitless OC should have been more than enough to get a true OC bill out there. This is the best that supposedly “gun crazy Texas” can muster? Not impressed.

    • As a Texan, I’m not all that impressed either. Maybe it’s a function of urban growth and an accompanying sheeple mentality?

      • Except that the last election results don’t confirm what you’re saying. Not only did the Governor win by the largest margin in the last 20 years, the Republican’s increased the number of seats they have in the TX house and senate.

  8. Come on OCTC, get those cameras out and warm up those YouTube accounts. It’s time to saddle up and head on over to the statehouse to throw some insults and make some threats. Victory is in sight, you have to find a way to turn it to a defeat. We all know, from your past, that you have the ability to get this vote tabled. Just dig out the OCTC antics book and write a new chapter.

  9. CC Permits in Texas are prohibitively expensive. We’re about to go after Republicans, and Democrats, for discriminating against poor people and minorities. They are perpetuating the true spirit of the original law, which was to keep freed slaves and minorities disarmed. It should be free to all.

    • I see that in a few other comments as well that it’s expensive to get the permit, but how expensive are we talking? $100? $200? $400??? I’m genuinely curious. From start to finish in NY (State, not the City), I spent nearly $150 between the $5 to get the application paperwork, the $10 fee to have my picture taken twice, (which is just for record, not what ended up on the permit itself), I think they charged me $5 to have the picture taken to be put on the permit but I don’t remember for sure… and then the $120ish fee to get digitally fingerprinted.

      Then all of my firearms have to be listed on the permit, and to add or to remove any from the permit is another $5 tax… I mean fee. It makes me a bit bitter.

      Seriously though, how much does it cost from start to finish?

      • If I remember correctly (with no discounts) the class was $115 and the license itself was another $140. It ain’t cheap.

        • But if you can prove that you indeed are under the poverty line, you can get a 50% discount on licensing and renewal fees. So instead of 140 it’s 70. And honestly if you paid that much for a class you got ripped off. Here in Amarillo they usually run from 35 to 60.

        • When I got mine some years ago, it was a total of @ $250, between the class and the state fees and requirements (like fingerprints a photos). Seems like the cost was pretty evenly split between the two. I understand it has gotten marginally easier (one-day class instead of two-day) and marginally less costly, but it’s still relatively hard to get compared to pretty much all the “free” states.

        • Sadly, even at $105, it’s paying for a privilege because exercise of the right has been legislated away. A long, long time ago I was homeless. I had my sidearm, a tent for a little while, the clothes on my back, and some toiletries. There is no way that I could’ve even payed $20 for a permit or license.

        • We ought to completely answer the question, guys, which would include the fact that the license is for 5 years, and renewal is done online for, IIRC, $45 for another 5 years, no further classes required, ever. And when I took the initial course was over 15 years ago, now, but seems like it was about $150 apiece (I was paying for 3). Doesn’t sound so bad, to me, but then I am not impoverished, either, and I respect the concern that the process just might be intended to keep blacks unarmed, since that history is 150 years old, now. I’m not saying I believe it, but I can sure understand the concern. If we could forbid the collection of any “fees” by the state, constitutional carry would be the law at the beginning of the very next legislative session.

      • Its actually free for active duty military, plus fingerprint and class fees. I think it was like $40+$60? I forget. Virginia also has one you can get in the mail for like $100.

  10. And without the campus carry bill, it still doesn’t help me, working on campus. Oh well, maybe next time around.

  11. My prediction is that this will mean the utter annihilation of the Open Carry Texas Movement. “Where will Shannon turn now for scaremongering shoppers?” – is the only question left blowing in the wind.

  12. why do I have to beg the state for a right that I already have? why must I pay a tax on a right I already have? why can a simple littering violation take away my right to carry a handgun in which I beg to state to allow me a license? Constitutional Carry anywhere anything. If you don’t like that then you ratify another Admendment to the Constitution.

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