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JUNE 2021 Blues Vol 37 No. 6.5

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JUNE 2021 Blues Vol 37 No. 6 • The History of the Galveston Island Beach Patrol • Beach Safety Tips • It's Island Time - Where to Stay, Eat & Play on the Island • The Texas School District Police Chiefs Conference • State & National Law Enforcement News • Warstory - What Happened to Susan Miller? • President Biden Receives Light Bulb Award • Open Road - The End of the HEMI? • Fishing with Rusty Barron • Dr. Tina speaks with David Edwards - Humanizing the Badge

Despite objections from

Despite objections from Police Groups, Constitutional Carry about to become law. Anyone over 21 can carry a handgun without a permit. HB 1927, known as “Constitutional Carry Bill” on the Way to Governor’s Desk for Signature Texas is now one small, inevitable step away from becoming the largest state in the U.S. to allow anyone 21 and up to carry a handgun in public without a permit. Just after midnight on Monday May 24th, the Texas House put the finishing touches on the so-called constitutional carry legislation that now moves to the Senate for a nearly guaranteed vote to ship it to Gov. Greg Abbott who has already declared he will sign it into law. “Ultimately this bill restores a right to Texans that, to my knowledge, has not existed prior to 1871,” State Rep. Matt Shaefer, R-Tyler, said moments before the House voted 82-62 to pass House Bill 1927. Republican supporters like Shaefer say the U.S. Constitution guarantees Americans the right to have guns. But he said the state over the decades has put barriers in place for gun owners, namely a license-to-carry permit process that requires handgun owners to go through safety training and pay a fee. While gun advocates say they aren’t against safety courses, it should be voluntary and not mandatory. Both the House and Senate had previously passed versions of the permitless carry legislation, but differences between the versions forced a series of closed-door negotiating sessions to work out a compromise. Schaefer said the House had to give up some key provisions, but he said, “Ultimately we came out with a bill that is strong and no doubt is the strongest restoration of 2nd Amendment rights that any of us has ever seen in the history of the state of Texas.” About 20 other states have adopted such laws; Texas would be by far the largest. Democrats including State Rep. Chris Turner, D-Grand Prairie, condemned the legislation, recalling mass shootings in El Paso and Odessa-Midland in 2019. Instead of addressing the epidemic of mass shootings, Turner said Republicans are only putting more guns on the street in the hands of untrained people. Abbott has left no doubt that he’ll sign the bill when it gets to him. Last month the governor tweeted: “Constitutional carry is moving in the #txlege. The strongest Second Amendment legislation in Texas history. Let’s get it to my desk for signing.” The bill had nearly died in March under the weight of opposition from law enforcement, and its rise is another reminder of the dramatic turns that happen during the state’s once every two-year legislative session. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, a Republican who oversees the Senate, had signaled early on that there weren’t enough yes-votes in that chamber to pass it. But over the weeks, the Senate added amendments to toughen penalties on felons who get caught carrying a gun illegally and bar people with convictions for domestic violence or making terroristic threats from openly carrying guns in public. Schaefer said he fought behind the scenes to strip off one of the amendments that was aimed at stopping police from disarming a person for officer safety purposes. Police officials were adamant that they needed the discretion to disarm people they come in contact with, even if only temporarily. But Schaefer said he was able to keep a provision in the bill that expunges people’s past convictions for carrying a gun without a license-to-carry permit, since that will not be a crime in Texas starting September 1, 2021 when the bill is expected to take effect. Gun rights advocacy groups celebrated early on Monday. Andi Turner, legislative director for the Texas State Rifle Association, told that groups members in an email there are still steps remaining to become law, “But I am putting the champagne in the refrigerator to chill.” Critics of the legislation, like Texas Gun Sense, say instead of stopping the proliferation of guns, the state is making a move to put more guns on the streets. 22 The BLUES POLICE MAGAZINE The BLUES POLICE MAGAZINE 23

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