DALLAS - A state lawmaker from Bedford wants to make it legal for all Texans to pack a pistol, with or without a permit.
Two controversial gun laws have come through the Texas Legislature in the past few sessions. Legislators passed the Open Carry law two years ago. Campus Carry also allows the concealed carry of handguns on college campus.
But State Rep. Jonathan Stickland wants to take it a step further. He has authored House Bill 375, or the Constitutional Carry bill, to give all Texans the right to openly carry a handgun.
"Right now what HB 375 is looking to do is make the CHL program right now optional for folks. We don't think that Texans should have to take a required class or pay a fee to exercise their Second Amendment rights to defend themselves," Stickland said.
The Texas Democrats and critics worry the bill would give unstable and untrained people easier access to guns. Stickland argued gun owners would still have to meet the current requirements, but wouldn't have to go through the process of getting their CHL.
"This is not an expansion of who can carry or where they could carry. So people who could currently qualify to get their CHL license would be able to do it under constitutional carry, but no one new," he said.
Stickland said criminals by nature do not obey the laws, so the restrictions are only hurting the good guys.
"What we are looking to do with Constitutional Carry is remove some of the barriers that are keeping the good guys from being in a position to defend themselves," he said.
Gov. Greg Abbott has not committed to supporting the bill, but Strickland said it is still one of the top two priorities for the Republicans. He's filed similar legislation in the past. He thinks this year is the year that it will pass.
Eleven other states in the nation already allow Constitutional Carry.
"The left, the gun grabbers that are trying to make it look like it's going to be the Wild Wild West, I think those are unfounded," Stickland said.