What You Need to Know About “Constitutional Carry” Gun Laws
In an article in The Texas Tribune, Sami Sparber notes that some lawmakers, mostly in the GOP, think 2021 might be the year that Texas becomes a “Constitutional Carry” state when it comes to firearms. Here are 3 things you need to know about it.
1.) What It Is
“Constitutional Carry” or “Vermont Carry” means carrying a firearm, concealed or open, without a license. Currently, Texas law is (with few exceptions) that you must get a CCL or “concealed carry license” to tote a shootin’ iron. I’ve got one so I can tell you what getting a CCL usually entails: a few hours of training, usually some time on a gun range, a written exam and, of course, a fee. Other requirements in most states are a non-felony criminal record and not having been adjudicated as mentally infirm or incapacitated.
2.) This Isn’t a “Gun Crazy” Texas Thing
For a state that loves it’s rootin’ tootin’ reputation as “pro-gun” it might be tempting to think that Texas would be on the leading edge of non-licensed right to carry a firearm.
The facts do NOT bear this out. As it stands now, there are TWENTY states that already have some form of “constitutional carry”. And these aren’t just the red, rural states either. Traditionally “blue states” like New Hampshire and Vermont (hence, “Vermont Carry”) allow for unlicensed carry. Each state might have a few minor variations but Texas is already late to the Constitutional Carry party.
3.) Why 2021 Might be the Year
Non-licensed gun carry is an issue that had been held at arm’s length by both parties, according to the Tribune article. Sparber notes that former Republican House Speaker Dennis Bonnen had called Constitutional Carry “bad policy” and its supporters “fringe gun activists”. The reason 2021 might be the year Texas goes Constitutional Carry is because of recent shake-ups in the Republican House leadership. The current Speaker, Dade Phelan of Beaumont, is a proponent. Many of the important party positions have been handed to supporters of the change. The new Texas GOP chair is leading the charge and Governor Abbott has made “protecting the 2nd Amendment” a key policy point.
Opponents of the change needn’t worry that this will lead to Texans being allowed to carry AR style guns without a license…because you’re already allowed to do that! That’s right. You don’t need a license to carry a “long gun” in Texas. The term “long gun” includes rifles, shotguns and, yes, the mass shooter weapon-of-choice the AR-15…all can be carried without a permit or license in the Lone Star State.