Will Texas be the 11th state to allow “constitutional carry” — the ability to openly carry firearms without a license.

As the legislature congregates for its bi-annual meeting, lawmakers hope to inhibit limitations on law-abiding gun owners:

Now, one lawmaker is looking toward the upcoming legislative session with the hope to pass a bill that would give all Texans the right to openly carry a firearm — with or without a permit.

House Bill 375 — authored by State Rep. Jonathan Stickland, R-Bedford — is known as “constitutional carry” and it would make the licensing process and classes to obtain a permit optional. The idea, according to Stickland, is that Texans shouldn’t be forced to take a course and pay a fee to exercise their Second Amendment rights. If passed, Texas would be the 11th state to allow constitutional carry.

A number of Texas Democrats oppose the proposal. State Rep. Donna Howard, D-Austin, a critic of both the campus carry and open carry laws, said constitutional carry “seems to be an unnecessary thing.”

“I think the next logical step for gun rights is to pass this bill,” said Stickland.

And Stickland is not alone among lawmakers wanting to make handguns easier for Texans to obtain and purchase. Within the first month of bill filing for the 2017 legislative session, state Sen. Robert Nichols, R-Jacksonville, and state Rep. Dustin Burrows, R-Lubbock, each filed bills that would eliminate any fees needed to obtain a license to carry. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said in a Nov. 30 news release he “strongly support[s]” Nichols’ legislation — Senate Bill 16 — and his “dedication and leadership to further support Second Amendment Rights.”

“Texas has one of the highest license to carry fees in the country,” Patrick wrote of the roughly $140 Lone Star State residents must pay for an application fee, assuming they don’t qualify for discounts. “SB 16 will make lawful carry more affordable for law abiding citizens across the state. No Texan should be deprived of their right to self-protection because of onerous licensing fees imposed by the state.”

Patrick’s words were echoed by Abbott’s spokeswoman, who said in a statement that Texas shouldn’t impose a fee on those wanting to obtain a license to carry.

“The governor believes Texans shouldn’t have to pay a price to exercise their Second Amendment rights, and he looks forward to signing legislation that will achieve that goal,” said Matthews.

More gun freedom, please.

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