DALLAS — Texans will soon be able to carry a handgun without needing a permit or any training once Gov. Greg Abbott signs a 'permitless carry' bill into law.
The measure, which has never had widespread public support, passed easily in the Texas House this session. But it had appeared to be roadblocked in the Texas Senate as Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick suggested it did not have enough votes to pass in that chamber.
So, what changed?
“What changed is that I think that [Texas] House passed a good bill, and I think we made it stronger,” Patrick explained on Sunday’s Inside Texas Politics. “You know, some people, some of the headlines said the bill was stuck in the Senate. Well, that was just not true. We received the bill, I formed a committee called ‘Constitutional Issues,’ which I knew would move the bill to the floor because all the Republicans on the committee supported the bill. Then we passed the bill last week."
"So, we passed the bill, and [in] about 14 business days from the time we got it from the House.”
Dallas Police Chief Eddie Garcia and the Dallas Police Association lobbied against the legislation in Austin, saying it is irresponsible to let untrained people carry firearms. But Patrick claimed more than 100 Texas sheriffs supported the bill.
“The key was we wanted to guarantee people's constitutional right to carry, law-abiding citizens, and we opened up a lot of other categories for people to carry."
But the bill also gave law enforcement a new tool to use against offenders, Patrick claimed.
" The law enforcement asked this– today it's unlawful if you're a felon, a convicted felon, to carry a weapon. Now, in our bill, if you're a felon and you're caught with a weapon illegally that you should not be carrying, you will face a minimum 5 years in prison, no probation," the lieutenant governor explained. "That's a strong law that law enforcement says will get guns and criminals and gang members off the street."
Patrick added that there are some other caveats to the law, as well.
"The second thing we did is we said, there are four categories of the law that we don't think you should be able to carry if you're convicted: if you've committed a terroristic threat with a weapon, deadly conduct with a weapon, assault causing bodily injury with a weapon or deadly conduct with a weapon,” he explained.
The lieutenant governor also discussed energy reform during his appearance on the Sunday show. He said passing bills that reform the electric and natural gas industries in Texas remains a critical priority to him after the deadly winter storm in February that left millions of Texans freezing and in the dark.
Most of the attention has focused on the electric generation plants with bills addressing power plants, the Public Utility Commission and ERCOT, which manages the state’s electric grid. Much less attention has focused on natural gas producers, which fuel more than half of the state’s electric plants.
Over the last couple of weeks, natural gas companies have quietly announced billions of dollars in profits from that freezing week in February.
When asked whether natural gas companies would face the same stringent reforms that electricity has, Patrick said he wants accountability all around.
“Look, I'm not going to leave Austin– whether it's this session, a special session or when we come back to do redistricting– without passing laws that prevent this from happening," he said. "You know, Mother Nature can be brutal at times, but we can never have another storm like this impact Texas like that storm did, and so there has to be accountability on both the electrical and the gas."
Patrick also discussed changes to election law that Republicans are making this session and whether he thinks it will end up in court.
Watch the entire interview with Patrick below: