Local law enforcement, firearms instructor on possibility of permitless carry in Texas

Local News

AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — The Texas House and Senate have already passed their versions of HB 1927, which would allow Texans 21 or older to carry firearms without a permit.

If HB 1927 becomes state law, local law enforcement said they would follow it.

“I don’t see it changing a whole lot. As far as law enforcement, we’re still going to have people that aren’t allowed to carry guns, it doesn’t change that if you aren’t able to carry a gun,” said Cpl. Jeb Hilton with the Amarillo Police Department.

Cpl. Hilton said for felons, or anyone who has been told they cannot have a gun, those rules would stand.

“What it does is it takes the fee for anybody who could get a permit anyways…to carry a gun, the ability to do that without having to pay the fee,” Cpl. Hilton added. “So, you know, we don’t have a lot of law-abiding citizens when guns become involved most of the time. So I don’t think it’s going to be a huge problem that we see around here, and we hope it’s not.”

Potter County Sheriff Brian Thomas said the Sheriff’s Association of Texas originally withheld support for the bill, but with amendments in the Senate eventually backed it.

“We want to be able to go up and ask, ‘What are you doing? Where are you going?’ That kind of thing,” Sheriff Thomas said. “It’s not that we want to get in your business, but we still have a duty to protect everybody else. And that’s where the issue lies with this and that’s why you’re seeing so much debate on especially within law enforcement because we still do have a duty to protect everybody, not just a select few.”

Background checks would still be required to buy guns at stores but the training that comes with the permitting process would not.

Law enforcement encouraged people to complete training, regardless of whether they get a permit.

“I think that you do learn a lot when it comes to you know, where you can carry exactly, when you can use that weapon and self-defense and when it becomes a crime when you do use it,” said Cpl. Hilton. “So, that’s something that, the training, we get yearly on and we get multiple times a year, so that we’re up to date on it. I would encourage anybody that’s going to carry a weapon to go through that.”

Sheriff Thomas said, “People have to realize this is a huge responsibility. Not only on yourself but everybody around you. And so, you know, if you’re gonna carry, be sure that you know that weapon and how to operate it. And practice, practice, practice.”

A local firearms instructor, Ryan Neusch, said he is personally for this legislation, but he sees both sides of the issue.

“The license to carry class isn’t going to go away, whether or not this passes. So, Texas does have reciprocity with other states in the nation, having a license to carry in other states is still going to be a necessity,” Neusch said.

Neusch said while HB 1927 would allow for Texas residents to be able to carry a handgun on their person in the State of Texas without a license, should those residents travel outside of this state, they would still have to have a license.

“As far as worrying about people not receiving the same amount of training before they are carrying, I think that’s a very valid concern,” Neusch continued. “However, for the proponents’ side of what 1927 offers, they’re trying to get closer to what the constitution says whenever it says that the right to bear arms shall not be infringed.”

Sheriff Thomas said he supports the right to bear arms but he still has some concerns about permitless carry.

“Every time you turn on the TV, somebody else has been involved in a shooting or something, and a lot of times, it’s police officers, and now we’re gonna have to even be, we have to step up our game even more, because we don’t know who’s carrying and who’s not,” Sheriff Thomas said.

The author of the bill, Rep. Matt Schaefer called the bill to the floor of the House and requested a conference committee and Speaker Phelan granted the motion.

Gov. Abbott has said he would sign the bill into law.

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