The Texas House heard testimony this week on two bills aimed at legalizing Constitutional Carry in Texas. House Bill 375, sponsored by State Rep. Jonathan Stickland (R-Bedford), would allow open carry of firearms with or without a license. It would make firearms training and permits optional for gun owners. Meanwhile, House Bill 1911 would allow open carry for those without a license in areas where current license holders are allowed to carry, with the exception of college campuses.
During a hearing on HB 375 before the House Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee, Stickland argued the bill is about fairness and equality. "I prescribe to the idea that every Texan, regardless of their color or income, has the right to bear arms if they so choose," he said. Stickland also countered common criticisms of the bill. "This is not an expansion of who can possess a gun---if you can legally possess it, we believe you should be able to carry it."
But several law enforcement officials testified against the bill, including Lt. Jessica Anderson of the Houston Police Department. She argued the bill will make the job of police more difficult. "When somebody calls us and says hey, there's a suspicious person with a weapon, this law as written wouldn't let us really address that call," she told the committee. "The Houston Police Department, we feel we have a responsibility to oppose this bill, because as written it makes an already challenging profession more challenging."
Stickland claims those police fears are unfounded. "This is not an anti-law enforcement bill," he testified. "We believe it makes their job easier and our state safer, because an armed society is a safer society."
For now, HB 375 and HB 1911 are both pending in the committee.