|On Friday, the Texas House gave tentative approval to House Bill 910, NRA-supported open carry legislation sponsored by state Rep. Larry Phillips (R-Sherman), on a 96 to 35 vote. HB 910 removes the requirement that Concealed Handgun Licensees (CHL) keep their handguns concealed and gives them the option of carrying them either wholly or partially visible in a belt or shoulder holster. After having established a 20-year record of law-abiding and responsible behavior, Texas CHLs have earned this personal protection option that 43 states currently allow.
Opponents raised several “points of order” on the bill – procedural challenges used to temporarily derail it before debate got started – but they were overruled. They unsuccessfully attempted to add gutting amendments to the measure, including moves to allow the four largest cities in the state to opt-out of the law, to require CHLs carrying openly to purchase liability insurance and conspicuously display their licenses somehow, to mandate the use of dual restraint holsters and to replace the current 30.06 signage requirements that apply to CHLs with far less adequate notice provisions.
HB 910 was given final approval by the House today on a 101-42 vote. It now moves to the Texas Senate for consideration. As we reported earlier, the Senate companion measure – Senate Bill 17, sponsored by state Senator Craig Estes (R-Wichita Falls) – has already passed the Senate. It remains to be seen which chamber will take up the other’s bill first. Your NRA-ILA will keep you posted regarding further action on either or both measures.
Also last week, the House Ways & Means Committee reported out House Bill 849, sponsored by state Rep. Chris Paddie (R-Tyler), state Rep. Dennis Bonnen (R-Angleton) and state Rep. Drew Springer (R-Gainesville), NRA-backed legislation creating tax-free weekends in late August and late October (before dove and deer seasons) on the sale of firearms, ammunition and hunting supplies. On Tuesday, the Senate Finance Committee will consider Senate Bill 228, sponsored by state Senator Brandon Creighton (R-Conroe), another NRA-backed sales tax holiday bill covering similar items. The sponsor is expected to present a committee substitute which would mirror the language in HB 849.
Since 2009, Louisiana has annually celebrated a Second Amendment sales tax holiday in early September, putting retailers in East and Southeast Texas at a competitive disadvantage just as hunting seasons are beginning. In addition to recognizing Texas’ similar commitment to our Second Amendment rights and sporting heritage, these measures would encourage more Texans to exercise those rights, purchase hunting licenses and engage in their favorite sporting activity. The contributions that sportsmen make when they purchase equipment or licenses actually relieve taxpayers from a significant burden of financing state for wildlife habitat restoration and conservation efforts. In the 2014 fiscal year, Texas was allocated $51 million from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service in Pittman-Robertson funds for such programs.