In The Chamber: Constitutional Carry Still Needs Votes in Texas Senate

A bill to allow permitless carry of handguns in Texas a.k.a. "constitutional carry" is now in limbo in the state Senate after breezing to passage in the state House last week. Proponents of the legislation cheered that as a major development, as prior attempts to pass constitutional carry didn't even make it out of committee in the House. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick quickly put a damper on the party though, saying the legislation currently doesn't have the votes to pass the Senate. Under Senate rules, it takes 18 votes to advance legislation to the floor, and Republicans hold exactly 18 seats.

Patrick says he will meet with gun rights groups to find a "path" to getting a bill that can pass. But proponents are skeptical of the Lt. Governor, since he has opposed constitutional carry in the past on the grounds of "anyone being able to walk down the street with a gun."

Rick Briscoe, legislative director for Open Carry Texas, says criticism that the bill would allow any dangerous person to have a gun is not true. "If a person committs an offense other than a traffic offense or a class C misdemeanor, it's not legal for them to carry, and they're subject to punishment of law," he tells KTRH.

As for getting the bill through the Senate, Briscoe says they don't necessarily need all 18 Republicans. "There were a number of Democrats who voted for the bill in the House," he says. "It's not really a Republican issue or a Democrat issue, it's a people issue, a criminal justice issue, a social justice issue."

Advocates of constitutional carry plan to take Patrick up on his offer to meet, and are confident they can get a bill to the governor's desk. "All of the Second Amendment community is working in close cooperation towards the same objective, and we believe our support of the bill will carry the day," says Briscoe. "Only time will tell."

For now, the ball is squarely in Patrick's court. "For the Lt. Governor, it's a matter of his leadership," says Briscoe. "If he wishes to pass the bill, it will pass. If he does not, it will not."

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