Gun rights advocates are celebrating what appears to be a rare victory this session in the fight to protect gun rights in the Lone Star State.
As Texas Scorecard has previously reported, HB 121 effectively closes a loophole in Sections 30.06 & 30.07 of the Texas Penal Code which currently allows for the prosecution of a licensed individual who carries a firearm onto property where a sign has been posted prohibiting the carrying of a weapon. As it stands, individuals can be prosecuted for unknowingly violating the prohibition even if they leave immediately after having been made aware of it.
“My bill, HB 121, is the first piece of legislation to pass the Texas House this session which affirms and defends the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding Texans,” said Swanson. “This important bill will provide a legal defense for otherwise law-abiding gun owners who unknowingly enter establishments that have posted signage that prohibits the carrying of guns, as long they promptly leave when informed of the policy.”
“I am very excited to see this bill reach the Senate, and I want to thank pro-Second Amendment Texans for their support!” she added.
Liberal gun control groups like Moms Demand Action and Texas Gun Sense were vocal opponents of the bill throughout the process, but some Democrats broke ranks from their more progressive peers to support the commonsense measure, both in committee and on the record vote on the House Floor.
Second Amendment advocates are cheering the victory, especially in light of the behind-the-scenes deal brokering by leadership to quietly kill pro-gun bills and prevent them from coming to the floor.
One such group, Gun Owners of America, issued the following statement Wednesday in response:
Congratulations to Rep. Valoree Swanson for Texas on the passage of her pro-gun bill, HB 121, on the House floor this morning! HB 121 creates a defense to prosecution for LTC holders who carry past a 30.06 or 30.07 sign but then leave promptly upon oral notice from the property owner. This would remove penalties from those who prove a good faith effort to follow a private property owner’s wishes regarding gun carry.
HB 121 is the first gun rights bill that the Texas House has passed this legislative session, and the first bill generally benefitting all LTC holders to have passed in either chamber. It still needs to pass the Senate and go to the governor before it can become law. If passed, it would go into effect September 1, 2019.
The intent behind this bill is to implement a very small change in current law, creating a policy that provides a better balance between private property rights and gun carry rights.
While I fully support HB 121 and am glad for its passage in the House, I am strongly displeased that our Texas legislators have not also passed other measures intended to provide more substantial changes by repealing current blatant infringement on the right to keep and bear arms — including Constitutional Carry, HB 357, which Rep. Swanson coauthored.
The Texas legislature needs to step up its efforts to pass meaningful gun rights legislation that benefits all Texans. The Lone Star State should be leading the way! Instead, other states are leaping ahead of us on gun rights while our legislature refuses to take up meaningful measures. Texas deserves more.
The bill now heads to the Texas Senate and will likely land in the Republican-dominated Committee on State Affairs chaired by State Sen. Joan Huffman (R–Houston), where the majority of Second Amendment-related bills have landed in the upper chamber this session.