A showdown is setting up in Texas over what’s called constitutional carry, legislation that would allow Texans to carry a handgun without a license.
Local law enforcement leaders, including the Dallas police chief, on Tuesday spoke out against the proposal.
The leader of the Texas Republican Party says it is a constitutional right. Republicans are typically considered supporters of law enforcement, but not on this issue.
The state Republican Party chairman says people who pass a background check should be able to carry a handgun without a license and that no permit is needed to carry a rifle in Texas. He added nearly two dozen other states have passed similar measures.
Dallas Police Chief Eddie Garcia was with others in law enforcement management and associations while speaking against legislation that would allow Texans to carry a gun without a license.
House Bill 1911 would remove the license requirement and training would be optional. The measure has passed two committees. Up next would be the full House vote.
"With the number of contacts that officers perform, including those that are already inherently dangerous, adding a gun to the equation and having the officers figure out good individual is law-abiding with a gun or not law-abiding with a gun makes our job and the job of our men and women more dangerous," he said.
Garcia argued proper training, including storage and handling, is the best way to prevent gun thefts and keep guns out of the hands of children where the unimaginable can happen.
"In the city of Dallas, we just had a tragedy over the weekend where a 9-year-old gained access to a firearm in a vehicle and shot and killed an 11-year-old in that same car," he said.
License to carry instructors are joining law enforcement against constitutional carry.
"The last thing we need is untrained individuals out in public with a gun that don’t know what the hell they're doing," said Raul Camacho, a license to carry instructor.
"We need to have constitutional carry in the state of Texas that says you don’t need a ‘Mother May I,’" said Texas Republican Party Chairman Allen West. "You don’t need a permit from the government of Texas that our constitution says that you have a right to keep and bear."
At Grapevine's Gun Experience, West called on his party to pass constitutional carry, saying people have a right to protect themselves.
"I do not have the ability to call 911, and these police chiefs aren’t going to be right there with a second or two of my call. And so these police chiefs need to go and talk to these district attorneys that continue to release these criminals onto our streets," West said. "These chiefs should be more concerned about people talking about defunding these law enforcement agencies."
Should the measure pass the House, it would also need to pass the Senate. Republicans hold sizeable margins of seats in both. It could make it this session.
Training would be optional. You would still need a license if you travel to other states where license to carry is required.