Texas sheriffs are urging lawmakers to keep amendments they believe are important to public safety as lawmakers negotiate the final version a permitless carry bill.
House Bill 1927 would allow anyone to carry a handgun without a license, as long as they aren’t otherwise prohibited from having a firearm. The bill passed out of the Senate May 5 after previously getting approval from the House, but several changes were made to the bill. Among the amendments were alterations that made it agreeable to the Sheriffs’ Association of Texas.
But the House on Wednesday declined to accept the changes made in the Senate, prompting the formation of a conference committee to come up with a version acceptable to both chambers. That committee is made up of five senators and five House members.
“Texas is on the cusp of a watershed victory for (the Second Amendment),” House Speaker Dade Phelan, R-Beaumont, tweeted Thursday. “(Dan Patrick) and I are energized and optimistic that the House and Senate we will get HB 1927 done and to (Gov. Greg Abbott) very soon.”
The association, including Tarrant County Sheriff Bill Waybourn, support the bill as amended in the Senate.
One change would prohibit permitless carry for people convicted of certain misdemeanors in the past five years. Another removed a part of the bill related to the expungement of unlawful possession of a firearm offenses. The association in a May 5 letter called the changes “must-have” amendments.
“The Texas Senate recognized the importance of this issue,” the association’s Thursday letter reads. “We can only hope the Texas House conferees do too.”
House members on the committee announced Wednesday are Rep. Matt Schaefer, R-Tyler, Rep. Dustin Burrow, R-Lubbock, Rep. James White, R-Hillster, Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, and Rep. Ryan Guillen, D- Rio Grande City.
Senate members announced Thursday are Sen. Charles Schwertner, R-Georgetown, Sen. Brian Birdwell, R-Granbury, Sen. Donna Campbell, R- New Braunfels, Sen. Brandon Creighton, R-Conroe, and Sen. Bryan Hughes, R-Mineola.
All of the lawmakers voted to pass the legislation.
Currently people seeking a License to Carry in Texas must provide fingerprints to the Texas Department of Public Safety, go through a criminal history background check and take an LTC course, according to DPS.
The bill has been met with skepticism from many law enforcement officers, Chambers County Sheriff Brian Hawthorne, who serves as the sheriff association’s legislative chairman, previously told the Star-Telegram. The Fort Worth Police Department opposes the bill.
If either of the association’s backed amendments were removed, the bill would lose the group’s support, Hawthorne said. The changes offered safety protections for the public and offered sheriffs some peace of mind that criminals wouldn’t be allowed to permitless carry, Hawthorne said.
“Each individual sheriff might have their own position, but it will not have the support of the Sheriff Association of Texas,” he said.