Rachel Malone of Texas Firearms Freedom writes:
After a season of plot twists, Constitutional Carry in Texas is dead. Activists fought hard, as did the few legislators who took a stand for the strongest gun rights legislation filed in the House. Texas made history, moving the issue farther along than ever before. And yet, as the session rushes to a close, deadlines have passed, but the bill hasn’t.
This announcement begs the question: who’s to blame? Although it’s fair to say that House and Senate leadership hold responsibility for not pushing forward the #1 priority of their party, I’m going to lay the blame squarely in the lap of Chairman Phil King of the Homeland Security & Public Safety committee.
After giving HB 375 a public hearing in February, he reportedly promised numerous times to schedule a vote moving the bill along. The vote never happened. The bill still sits in his committee, having passed House deadlines to be moved forward.
There was another unlicensed carry bill that also moved in the House this session: HB 1911. Since it was completely re-written several times during the legislative process, it’s hard to understand what the bill even was supposed to do. I joined many others with concerns over the bill.
Yet even HB 1911 could have been a vehicle for implementing meaningful change. It, too, died. After moving out of King’s committee one day too late for House members to force it to the floor for a vote, it sat in the Calendars committee and was never scheduled for second reading.
Constitutional Carry is not the only issue being targeted. This session, very few bills of substance on ANY issue have passed in Texas. In fact, the Republican-controlled legislature has managed to pass only one or two of its party’s eight legislative priorities. The others, including the number one priority of Constitutional Carry, are all dead.
You may hear glowing reports of the efforts of “gun rights champions” who have given us SB 16, which HAS passed both chambers. It will reduce the fee for a five-year license from $140 to $40, effective September 1.
While a positive move toward reducing the financial barrier to obtaining an License to Carry, this bill should by no means be considered an acceptable substitute for Constitutional Carry. It is simply a different issue.
Many of us are highly disappointed, disgusted, ashamed and angry. I believe we have good reason for such feelings. Yet, at the risk of sounding Pollyanna-ish, I’d like to remind us to look for the good, because there is a lot to be found.
I want to thank everyone who took a stand for HB 375, the “Constitutional Carry Act of 2017.” Specifically, note the names of the approximately 165 Texans who drove to the Capitol on February 28 for the hearing and registered their support. Their sacrifice is not to be glossed over. They have my deepest respect and appreciation. They give me hope.
Also, let your eyes linger over the representatives who signed on to the bill. Joint authors: Stickland, Schaefer, Rinaldi, & Leach. Coauthors: Biedermann, Cain, Hefner, Isaac, Keough, Krause, Lang, Metcalf, Shaheen, Swanson, Tinderholt, White, Wilson, Zedler.
One day, those names will be joined by many others who will jump on the Constitutional Carry bandwagon — after it becomes popular. Don’t forget those who paved the way. Don’t forget how fortunate we are to have these champions at the Capitol.
Many of you made phone calls, wrote e-mails, shared information, and showed up for events. Your efforts are not in vain. You and your dedication are one of the finest things this session has given us. Don’t underestimate the value of building a community forged through shared struggle.
Although we didn’t get a bill passed this session, all of your involvement puts us in a much stronger position for next session.
We may have to wait two years, but that gives us plenty of time to do a few important things. Like replace a few people in next year’s primary election. Or get out on the range and teach more people to shoot so they have a reason to stand with us next time around. Or feed our community the antidote to governmental overreach: personal responsibility.
When 2019 rolls around, let’s be ready.