Image: State Representative Matt Schaeffer, Republican of Tyler, speaks in favor of his House Bill 1927, the Constitutional Carry legislation, which passed the Texas House of Representatives on April 15, 2021.
The Golden Hammer Staff Reports
Austin and Tyler, December 27 – A six-hour performance on April 15, 2021, secured State Representative Matt Schaeffer, Republican of Tyler, the “Person of the Year 2021” Award for the State of Texas. Schaeffer was the author of the Constitutional Carry legislation, which first passed the Texas House of Representatives and then, despite some resistance from Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, passed the Texas Senate a few days later.
The Texas House of Representatives made history in passing Constitutional Carry, meaning if you can legally buy a gun, you can legally carry a gun without a government permission slip. The vote on House Bill 1927 was 84 ayes and 56 nays. Schaeffer and Republican State Representative Dan Huberty ably lined up several Democrats who voted for the legislation along with the vast majority of Republicans.
Schaefer argued that Constitutional Carry particularly benefits women who can enjoy the added security of carrying a handgun for protection without having to spend money on a license which would take funds away “from her children’s clothing, food, or other needs.” Schaefer told his colleagues in the House, “This bill should be called common sense carry, because it’s for personal and family protection…Under this bill, people who are prohited from possessing a handgun will still be prohibited from possessing a handgun…It’s time for Texas to join other states, which have common sense carry.”
State Representative Chris Turner, Democrat of Grand Prairie, led the opposition to the legislation. Turner argued that weakening handgun permitting would result in more crime and tried to claim that police associations oppose the legislation. While certain police associations in Dallas, Austin, and San Antonio have opposed Constitutional Carry, Schaefer noted that the Sheriff’s Association of Texas supported passage of the bill.
Schaefer maintained the argument during the lengthy debate, “You can’t expect law enforcement to be in every place at every time. You have to let people defend themselves in time of need.” Clearly, the majority of the House of Representatives agreed.
Liberals sought several amendments to the legislation to try to weaken Constitutional Carry, but Schaefer and his colleagues defeated every one of those amendments.
Specifically, House Bill 1927 amended the Penal Code to make it legal for any person who can legally possess a firearm and who is 21 years of age or older to carry a handgun while not on their own premises or a premises under their control and while not inside of or directly en route to a motor vehicle or watercraft that they own or that is under their control. The bill, now law, also made it legal for any such person who is not a member of a criminal street gang to carry a handgun in plain view in a motor vehicle or watercraft that is owned by the person or under the person’s control.
The House Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee passed the bill out of committee on a 6 to 3 vote on April 1, 2021, after Schaeffer very able presentation. The Committee Report explained, “The Second Amendment enshrined the right to bear arms in the U.S. Constitution. There are concerns that state law infringes on the free exercise of that right, namely by requiring a license, which takes time and money to obtain, to legally be able to carry a handgun. C.S.H.B. 1927 seeks to reduce barriers to the free exercise of Texans’ constitutional right to bear arms and defend their lives and property by making it legal for individuals who are 21 years of age or older and who can legally possess a firearm to carry a handgun without first obtaining a license. The bill retains the handgun license in statute as optional to allow reciprocity with states that have not yet passed similar legislation.”
Schaeffer’s presentation on April 15 was nothing short of masterful. Not only did he make the right substantive arguments but his very respectful tone towards his liberal Democrat colleagues carried the day by not raising the ire of the many centrist Democrats who eventually voted along with Republicans and didn’t raise too much of a fuss when the legislation proceeded to the Senate for consideration.
Constitutional Carry has been a priority among conservatives and Republicans for a long time in Texas. It was long past due for Texas to display that it’s just as conservative as Vermont (?!).
All Texans should thank Schaeffer for his brilliance and self-discipline.