HB 1927, also known as permitless carry or constitutional carry, will allow eligible residents to carry weapons, openly or concealed, without a permit. But many Texas voters and law enforcement agencies oppose the measure. Gun experts also have differing opinions on the soon-to-be law.
Mike Taylor owns San Antonio Concealed Handgun. He teaches classes for license to carry. He worried about those who may carry a weapon without proper training and vetting.
“License to carry in Texas, you have to take a class, learn about the laws, regulations, but most importantly, you need to qualify and show that you can operate a handgun safely and be accurate,” he said.
“And that’s where the problem is with constitutional carry,” he explained. “There’s no vetting whatsoever. None at all.”
Taylor said courses like his are not designed to specifically train people to shoot a weapon. Some knowledge of shooting is required before customers start the class.
“Almost every class I have someone loading the bullets in the magazine backwards,” he said. “And I have people that they’ll turn to look to the side and point the gun at someone more often than I would care to express.”
The current law requires residents be licensed to carry a handgun openly or concealed. Applicants are fingerprinted, and they must complete four to six hours of training, plus pass a written test and shooting proficiency test.
Taylor said that carrying a weapon in public could be dangerous, even if someone trained is carrying it.
“Because it’s dangerous carrying a gun when you’ve been trained” he said. “You have a license, but no training, no vetting whatsoever? Personally, I think that’s going to be a dangerous situation.”
Taylor says his class sizes for concealed carry have recently decreased by about 80%.
Mission Ridge Range and Academy on San Antonio’s north side, sells guns and accessories, has an indoor shooting range and teaches License to Carry Courses.
Employee Stephen Jones thought permitless carry will be a good thing.
“So having law abiding citizens able to legally carry firearms levels the playing field between criminals who are going to be armed anyway and law abiding citizens who have the right to self-defense,” he said.
But Jones also thought training would be a good idea.
“With rights come responsibilities” he said. “We still believe and recommend that if you’re going to carry, you should get training. You need to be proficient. You need to be safe. You need to know the law, or you can get yourself in trouble caring where you’re not supposed to.”
At Mission Ridge, Christian Ava celebrated his 21st birthday by getting his license to carry permit even though it soon won’t be required. He believed training is a good idea, but he didn’t think a permit should be required.
“Oh, I feel like it’s better and safer for everyone in the environment, you know?,” he said. “I mean, you never know what could happen. You know, we always, like, don’t want tragedies to happen, but it’s better for us to have protection. when you’re 21, it would help, you know, to also have that permission to carry without having a license granted.”
Once HB 1927 is signed into law, eligible Texans age 21 or over will be able to carry a pistol openly or concealed, but the gun must be in a holster. There will still be public places where guns are not allowed, and businesses will be able to ban guns on their premises.