This week, the Texas House of Representatives passed a bill dubbed “Constitutional Carry” that would allow citizens over the age of 21 to carry a gun without a license, drawing outrage from many state Democrats and gun-reform advocates.
Texas law currently requires citizens to obtain a license to carry in order to carry a firearm openly or concealed. If passed into law, the new bill would remove that restriction, allowing Texans to carry guns without having to pass a background check or go through training. Texas would become the 14th state to implement such a law.
The bill arrives on the heels of several recent mass shootings that have taken place around the country. On Thursday night, a gunman killed eight people including four members of the Sikh community in an Indianapolis FedEx warehouse. Earlier this month in Bryan, Texas, a man opened fire at a cabinet company where he was previously employed. One man died and five others were injured, including a state trooper.
On Twitter, former congressman Beto O’Rourke expressed his support for those protesting the bill at the state capitol in Austin. He echoed their demands for common sense gun laws.
“Grateful to @joecascinotx and those doing their best to stop HB 1927 and ensure that we have common sense gun laws in Texas,” O’Rourke tweeted. “Thank you for showing up and stepping up for Texas!”
After a mass shooting in his native El Paso in August 2019 that left 23 people dead and another mass shooting that same month where 7 people were killed at a Cinergy movie theater complex in Odessa, O’Rourke had given an impassioned speech on gun reform and his proposal for a mandatory assault weapon buyback program.
“Hell yes, we’re going to take your AR-15, your AK-47. We’re not going to allow it to be used against our fellow Americans anymore,” he said then.
Protesting the bill at the state capitol, Becca DeFelice, a volunteer for Moms Demand Action Texas chapter, said: “It’s not complicated, and it’s not controversial: gun owners like me know that responsible gun ownership means going through a background check and safety training before carrying loaded handguns in public.”
State Democratic representatives Rafael Anchía and Diego Bernal offered an amendment to the bill that would prevent “insurrectionists … or violent white supremacist extremist[s]” from possessing firearms, but it failed to make it in the bill because it did not gain enough votes.
In addition to 84 state Republicans, seven democrats voted in favor of the Constitutional Carry bill. Representative Morgan Meyer of Dallas was the only Republican to vote against the bill. The bill will now advance to a Republican-majority Senate, where the fate of the bill will be determined.