This proposed bill would allow Texans to carry guns without a license or training

Last session, the Texas Legislature passed campus carry on public college campuses. This session, gun rights advocates are seeking to extend that winning streak by passing constitutional carry, the concept that would allow most people to carry a gun without a license or training class.

Currently, individuals applying for a license to carry must complete fingerprinting and a four- to six-hour class. After the class, individuals must pass a proficiency test. Without the requirement to obtain a license to carry, individuals will no longer have to undergo training to carry a firearm.

Several proponents of constitutional carry testified during a Tuesday afternoon House public hearing in favor of House Bill 375, proposed by state Rep. Jonathan Stickland, R-Bedford.

Rick Briscoe, a representative of Open Carry Texas, said the requirement to obtain a license was one of the last remnants of slavery.

Another witness testifying in favor of the bill called his license to carry document a "slave pass."

Briscoe said 33 states have already passed measures that deregulate gun laws. He said these states allow either open or concealed carry without licensing, and 12 states offer both.

Other states that have already passed constitutional carry measures include Montana, Missouri, West Virginia and Idaho.

Law enforcement officers from major Texas cities all testified against the bill, suggesting such a law would make their jobs more difficult.

Houston Police Department Lt. Jessica Anderson said police like to tackle situations as they arise and prevent them before they develop into a dangerous incident.

"As written, it makes an already challenging profession more challenging," Anderson said.

The campus carry legislation that passed last session allowed law enforcement officers to query if those openly carrying firearms had a license. Stickland's bill would not permit those questions, Anderson said.

Representatives from Austin and Dallas police departments were also present to testify against the bill.

A retired police officer, Randall Gates, called those members of law enforcement testifying at the hearing "snowflake police, pencil pushers."

He said "real police" can smell which people carrying guns are criminals and which are not. He said these officers won't have to worry about coming across someone carrying a gun and wondering whether they are legally carrying—because they will know.

Proponents of constitutional carry have said that loosening gun control laws would decrease crime in Texas because each person carrying a gun would be able to protect him or herself.

Andrea Brauer of Gun Sense Texas refuted this claim.

"The regular person on the street is not a police officer ... we do not want to encourage that kind of behavior," Brauer said.

Brauer also cited a study that said roughly 20 percent of guns are sold without background checks, leaving the opportunity for those not legally allowed to have guns (with or without constitutional carry) to obtain them illegally and easily.


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