Texas Legislature Passes Record Number of Pro-Gun Bills But Key Items Remain as “Unfinished Business”
The Texas Legislature adjourned its regular session on Memorial Day after passing fifteen pro-Second Amendment measures, and was immediately called back into special session by Governor Rick Perry to address the drawing of district lines in which federal and state lawmakers will run for re-election next year. The Governor can add issue items to the agenda (known as “the call”) as the special session progresses. It is important that you contact his office and urge him to place the following unfinished pro-Second Amendment business on the call:• Allowing law-abiding adults with Concealed Handgun Licenses (CHLs) to legally protect themselves in buildings and facilities on college and university campuses. Senate Bill 9 and House Bill 19 have already been filed on this topic in the special session.• Imposing penalties on state agencies, cities and counties which improperly post 30.06 signs prohibiting CHLs from public property that is not off-limits to them under the state’s carry law. Senate Bill 16 has already been filed on this topic in the special session.Information on how to call and send an e-mail to Governor Perry can be found here.Please also contact your state Senator and Representative, and urge them to work to address these two items during the special session. Contact information can be found here for your state Senator and here for your state Representative.The NRA-backed campus personal protection bill, House Bill 972 sponsored by Representative Allen Fletcher (R-Cypress) and Senator Brian Birdwell (R-Granbury), passed in the House and out of Senate committee this year, but Senate Democrats blocked it from coming to the Senate floor for a vote. Under Senate rules in place during the regular session, a 2/3 vote was necessary to bring any measure up for debate in that legislative chamber – and Democrats control 12 out of 31 seats there. However, rules can change in the special session, where only a majority vote could be necessary to consider and pass measures that are placed on the call. For three sessions in a row, opponents of campus carry have used legislative process hurdles and procedural rules unique to Texas to prevent a final vote from taking place on campus personal protection legislation. During that time, there have been four high-profile shooting and stabbing incidents on or in the immediate vicinity of the campuses of the University of Texas at Austin, Texas A&M University-College Station and two branches of the Lone Star College System. The time for action is now! Even if you are a CHL who never goes onto a college campus, you need to get involved in this fight to remove unnecessary and arbitrary restrictions on where trained and licensed individuals can protect themselves in Texas. Another NRA-supported bill, House Bill 508 by state Representative Ryan Guillen (D-Rio Grande City), met an unexpected fate during the last few hours of the regular session. Originally, this legislation imposed civil fines on state agencies, cities or counties that improperly post 30.06 signs prohibiting CHLs from public property which is not off-limits to them under the Texas Penal Code. It also gave the Attorney General or local district attorney the ability to sue to collect those civil penalties if the offending agency or political subdivision failed to remove the signs after having been notified of a violation. This measure intended to provide some much-needed clarity for CHLs, but it became the vehicle for an ill-advised amendment extending special privileges to lawmakers to carry in locations where ordinary CHLs cannot legally protect themselves. Certain pro-gun lawmakers strongly objected to the hypocrisy of such a proposal as it came before the House during the last day of session. Unfortunately, the offending amendment could not be separated from the underlying bill at that stage of the process. As a result, this measure was voted down overwhelmingly. The state Legislature did pass Senate Bill 1907 by Senator Glenn Hegar (R-Katy) and Representative Tim Kleinschmidt (R-Lexington), which prohibits public and private colleges and universities from adopting or enforcing policies restricting the possession, transportation and storage of any lawfully-owned firearms and ammunition by CHLs in their locked, privately-owned motor vehicles while driving through or parking on campus. This legislation has been sent to Governor Perry for his signature.Below are even more pro-Second Amendment measures passed by the state legislature this session:Senate Bill 17 by Senator Dan Patrick (R-Houston) and Representative Fletcher allows for two employees of a school district or an open-enrollment charter school without security personnel, who are CHLs and authorized by their school board to carry on campus, to participate in a school safety training program developed by the DPS and the Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training Center (ALERRT). This legislation has been sent to Governor Perry for his signature.Senate Bill 299 by Senator Craig Estes (R-Wichita Falls) and Representative Kenneth Sheets (R-Dallas) protects against charges of unlawful carry for the inadvertent or accidental display of a handgun by a Concealed Handgun Licensee. This bill has been signed into law by Governor Rick Perry!Senate Bill 864 by Senator Donna Campbell (R-New Braunfels) and Representative Dan Flynn (R-Van) reduces the minimum number of required classroom training hours for original and renewal Concealed Handgun Licenses from 10-15 to 4-6. This change would make it far more convenient for CHL applicants to obtain a license to carry and exercise their right to self-defense. This bill has been signed into law by Governor Rick Perry!
Senate Bill 987 by Senator Hegar and Representative Patricia Harless (R-Spring)allows the Texas Attorney General to seek a temporary or permanent injunction against a city or county that adopts a regulation in violation of the state firearms preemption law. This legislation has been sent to Governor Perry for his signature.Senate Bill 1400 by Senator Estes and Representative Charlie Geren (R-Fort Worth) protects BB guns and other air guns against most local regulations by including them in the state firearms preemption statute. This legislation has been sent to Governor Perry for his signature.Senate Bill 1857 by Senator Estes and Representative Geren directs the Department of Public Safety to establish a process by which qualified concealed handgun instructors may obtain additional certification in school safety. Successful completion of the advanced training course would allow the instructor to teach these security techniques to employees of school districts or open-enrollment charter schools who hold Concealed Handgun Licenses (CHLs). This legislation has been sent to Governor Perry for his signature.House Bill 48 by Representative Flynn and Senator Patrick streamlines the process for renewal of a Concealed Handgun License by eliminating the continuing education requirement and handgun proficiency demonstration. Applicants would still be required to renew their licenses every five years, but they would be provided with an informational form regarding pertinent firearms and deadly force laws, which would have to be signed and turned in with the CHL renewal application. This legislation has been sent to Governor Perry for his signature.House Bill 333 by Representative Ryan Guillen (D-Rio Grande City) and Senator Juan Hinojosa (D-McAllen) requires hotels which restrict the possession, storage or transportation of firearms to notify guests of such policies on their websites or when confirming reservations. This legislation has been sent to Governor Perry for his signature.House Bill 485 by Representative Sarah Davis (R-Houston) and Senator John Whitmire (D-Houston) reduces fees for original or renewal Concealed Handgun Licenses charged to veterans who are honorably discharged after at least one year of military service, reserve and part-time peace officers, TDCJ correctional officers and members of the Texas Military Forces from $70 to $35, respectively, to $25. This legislation has been sent to Governor Perry for his signature.House Bill 698 by Representative Drew Springer (R-Muenster) and Senator Estesrequires DPS to establish procedures for the submission of fingerprints by CHL applicants who live in counties with populations of less than 46,000 and do not live within 25 miles of a designated facility capable of processing them digitally or electronically. Availability of such services continues to be a problem in rural areas, as the state only contracts with one company. This legislation has been sent to Governor Perry for his signature.House Bill 1009 by Representative Jason Villalba (R-Dallas) and Senator Kelly Hancock (R-North Richland Hills) creates a new category of law enforcement called a “school marshal.” In order to become a school marshal, applicants would have to complete an intensive training program developed by the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Education (TCLEOSE). However, the program would also be open to any employee of a school district or open-enrollment charter school who has a Concealed Handgun License. The governing bodies of the institutions would decide whether to appoint marshals to certain schools. This legislation has been sent to Governor Perry for his signature.House Bill 1349 by Representative Lyle Larson (R-San Antonio) and Senator Campbell prohibits the Texas Department of Public Safety from requesting or requiring that an applicant’s social security number be disclosed during the process of obtaining an original or renewal Concealed Handgun License. This legislation has been sent to Governor Perry for his signature.House Bill 1421 by Representative Charles Perry (R-Lubbock) and Senator Estes allows firearms seized by law enforcement in connection with a crime, and not returnable to a rightful owner, to be sold at a public sale to federal firearms licensed dealers rather than be destroyed. This bill has been signed into law by Governor Rick Perry.House Bill 3142 by Representative Cecil Bell (R-Magnolia) and Senator Estesrepeals both the requirement that Concealed Handgun License applicants demonstrate proficiency with a specific category of handgun (semi-automatic or non-semi-automatic) and the limitation on CHLs carrying the category of handgun with which they qualified. This legislation has been sent to Governor Perry for his signature. Additionally, no gun control legislation passed during the regular session – including proposals that were introduced to restrict private firearm transfers at gun shows, ban standard capacity magazines, gut the state firearms preemption law and require drug testing for CHL applicants. Thanks for all your e-mails and calls to state lawmakers over the past five months on all of these measures – keep up the pressure on your elected officials to complete their unfinished business on protecting your Second Amendment rights during the current special session!