Commentary: Reagan Reed
If HB 1927, the Texas “constitutional carry” bill doesn’t pass, don’t blame Democrats- seven of them actually voted for it. Don’t blame the House or Speaker Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont)- they passed it. If constitutional carry dies the blame falls squarely on Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick and the police unions.
The narrative that has been repeated axiomatically for years is that the Senate was more conservative than the House. The conventional wisdom among activists and the media has been that while Patrick, a tea party firebrand, is pushing to pass conservative priorities through the more right-ward Senate, the reason these bills never become law is because they are stymied by “RINOs” in the more moderate House.
That perception may about to be completely turned upside down.
After making it to the floor and passing on a bipartisan majority in the House, the spotlight then turned on the senate, over which Patrick presides as the lieutenant governor. Patrick, who has never really been an advocate for constitutional carry, did not wait long to throw cold water on the idea.
“If we have the votes to pass a permitless carry bill off the Senate floor, I will move it,” said Patrick, before throwing in the caveat that, “At this point we don’t have the votes on the floor to pass it.”
Patrick elaborated that he plans to meet with both groups for and against the bill. “I plan to meet with law enforcement who oppose permitless carry and with the NRA and GOA who support it to see if we can find a path that a majority of senators will vote to pass.”
Law enforcement unions have been among the biggest opponents of constitutional carry in Texas, and have been at the capitol lobbying legislators to vote against it. They have also been big backers of Patrick’s campaign.
In my humble opinion, “we don’t have the votes” is not a credible excuse. In Texas, the lieutenant governor wields tremendous power, and Patrick doesn’t shy away from using it. He has shown numerous times that if he really wants to get legislation through the senate, he will. He can find the votes.
At the very least, Patrick could bring constitutional carry up for a vote on the Senate floor. Then everyone would know where each senator stands on the issue and we would know if it truly doesn’t have the votes. My hunch is there are some senators who would probably vote differently knowing they would have to explain a public vote to their constituents instead of being shielded from having to take a stand by Patrick.
Patrick has thus far declined to even mention who the senators are who are holding up the bill, although based on past comments and affiliations, State Sens Joan Huffman (R-Houston) and Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound) are strong suspects.
These are the games that legislators play in Austin. The more cynical side of me wonders if House leadership knew all along that Patrick was going to kill constitutional carry in the Senate, and just passed it through their chamber to burnish their pro-gun bonafides. I hope that isn’t true.
Whether constitutional carry passes or fails, voters deserve to know where their senators stand on the issue. The House did its job. Now Patrick and the Senate need to do theirs.
On a final note, I don’t personally dislike Dan Patrick. Heck, I’ve voted for the man in every single primary, runoff, and general election when he has been on my ballot. But as publisher of The Forty-Five News, I try to always call balls and strikes when I see them. One of the many great things about this country is that we have the right to criticize our elected officials when they do things we disagree with. Let us always strive to use that right in a wise and truthful manner, with the focus of accomplishing good for our neighbors.