The Texas Legislature convened for its 2015 Regular Session on January 13. Dozens of pro-Second Amendment measures were either pre-filed or have been introduced in recent weeks, along with a handful of sweeping gun control bills. The filing deadline for legislation is not until March 13, and NRA-ILA anticipates that many more firearm- and hunting-related bills, both good and bad, will materialize between now and then.
Contact information for state Senators can be found at www.senate.state.tx.us and for House members at www.house.state.tx.us. A list of Senate Committees was released late Friday and the House is still organizing itself, so the following measures have not yet been assigned to committee or scheduled for a hearing in either chamber. NRA-ILA will keep you informed as to where these bills are referred and when they see action, but in the meantime, here’s a rundown of the major legislation we are tracking thus far in Austin that could affect Texas gun owners and sportsmen:
Today, state Senator Brian Birdwell (R-Granbury), along with 19 Senate co-authors, and state Representative Allen Fletcher (R-Tomball) introduced Senate Bill 11 and House Bill 937, respectively, to remove restrictions in state law that prohibit law-abiding, adult Concealed Handgun Licensees (CHLs) from protecting themselves on college and university campuses. You can expect to see the same misguided bias against these bills from some in the Texas media this session, but interestingly, a major newspaper in Nevada recently endorsed and strongly recommended passage of a similar measure filed in that state’s legislature. From the editorial, entitled: “Law-abiding citizens shouldn’t be defenseless on college campuses”:
‘Bad guys don’t obey gun laws, on college campuses and elsewhere. Lawmakers who oppose campus carry proposals must acknowledge that gun-free zones essentially create defenseless target zones. Considering the president of the United States and college administrators claim there is a sexual assault crisis on college campuses, why would lawmakers deny women the ability to defend themselves?’ - Las Vegas Review Journal
To read the editorial in its entirety, please click here.
Numerous versions of open carry bills have been filed, which can best be broken down into the following categories:
Constitutional or Permitless Carry: House Bill 195, pre-filed by state Representative Jonathan Stickland (R-Bedford) and Senate Bill 342 by state Senator Don Huffines (R-Dallas) would remove the requirement that an individual obtain a Concealed Handgun License in order to carry a legally-possessed firearm openly or concealed in the State of Texas.
Open Carry for CHLs: House Bill 164, pre-filed by state Representative James White (R-Woodville), House Bill 910 by state Representative Larry Phillips (R-Sherman), and Senate Bill 346 by state Senator Craig Estes (R-Wichita Falls) would remove the requirement that CHLs carry their handguns hidden from plain view and allow them the option of carrying them wholly or partially visible in a belt or shoulder holster. House Bill 106, pre-filed by state Representative Dan Flynn (R-Van), House Bill 291 by state Representative Dan Huberty (R-Kingwood) and House Bill 415 by state Representative Debbie Riddle (R-Spring) are similar to those bills, but they also specify that holsters used by CHLs have dual points of resistance.
Right to Hunt and Fish Constitutional Amendments
As previously reported, legislation has been filed to amend the state constitution and establish an individual Right to Hunt & Fish: House Joint Resolution 61, pre-filed by state Representative Trent Ashby (R-Lufkin) and Senate Joint Resolution 22 by state Senator Brandon Creighton (R-Conroe). These important measures would ensure that future wildlife management decisions are based on sound science to protect the Lone Star State’s hunting heritage for generations to come.
Clarifying or Repealing Prohibited Locations for Concealed Handgun Licensees (CHLs)
House Bill 226, pre-filed by state Representative Ryan Guillen (D-Rio Grande City) and Senate Bill 273 by state Senator Donna Campbell (R-New Braunfels) would impose 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. These bills are an effort to provide much-needed clarity for license holders.
House Bill 308, pre-filed by state Representative Drew Springer (R-Gainesville) would remove all restrictions on where CHLs may lawfully carry that currently exist in the Penal Code, and Senate Bill 311 by state Senator Campbell would repeal the criminal prohibition on carrying in certain locations listed in Sections 46.03 and 46.035 that are considered private property or privately-owned businesses.
Second Amendment or Sportsmen’s Sales Tax Holiday
House Bill 206, pre-filed by state Representative Jeff Leach (R-Plano), House Bill 712 by state Representative Drew Springer (R-Gainsville) and Senate Bill 228 by state Senator Brandon Creighton (R-Conroe) all create sales tax holidays for firearms and/or hunting supplies to be held one weekend a year around the start of hunting season. These bills are modeled after popular tax-free weekends held annually in both Louisiana and Mississippi for gun owners and sportsmen.
Anti-Gun Legislation Filed To-Date
State Senator Rodney Ellis (D-Houston) has filed a laundry list of deeply flawed gun control measures. You can expect to see more anti-gun bills filed on the House side before the deadline to introduce legislation passes:
- Senate Bill 256 bans the possession or transfer of so-called “large capacity magazines”;
- Senate Bill 257 creates a criminal offense for failing to report a lost or stolen firearm to a law enforcement agency within 48 hours;
- Senate Bill 258 restricts the private transfers of firearms at gun shows; and
- Senate Bill 259 criminalizes the private transfers of firearms – even between neighbors, friends, co-workers and certain family members – and establishes an immense new state bureaucracy to implement such new restrictions.
While these are the major pro- & anti-gun and hunting bills filed for the 2015 session, this is by no means an exhaustive list. You can search for specific bills on particular subjects of interest to you at http://www.legis.state.tx.us/search/billsearch.aspx. Rest assured that NRA-ILA is tracking all measures affecting your rights and we will continue to report on their progress as the session moves ahead.