The most pro-gun lawmaker in gun-friendly Texas says Sunday’s mass shooting at a small-town church only reinforces the need to pass a bill that removes any restrictions on the carrying of firearms in the state’s public spaces.
“The truth is, I think the shooting proves that an armed society is a safer one,” the lawmaker, State Representative John Stickland, told The Trace. “It proves the need for constitutional carry. It proves the need because criminals and psychopaths do not obey the law. You’re handcuffing good people who want to be armed and stop this kind of thing.”
“Constitutional carry,” as advocates like Stickland call it, derives its name from the idea that the Second Amendment is the only gun law that matters, and that individual Americans’ firearms rights “shall not be infringed” by any subsequent statutes. (Never mind that the Supreme Court has not ruled on whether the right to bear arms extends outside of the home.)
Opponents call the same laws “permitless carry,” because they allow gun owners to carry firearms virtually anywhere in public — openly or concealed — without first obtaining a license. That means rendering obsolete a process that can involve fingerprinting, safety training, a marksmanship test and paying a fee.
There are now 12 states with a permitless law on the books; almost all of those statutes have been enacted over the last seven years.
Earlier this year, Stickland introduced a permitless bill that never made it to the floor of the Texas House. Still, it had the full support of the Texas state Republican Party, which, before the session began in January, said it was its top legislative priority.
On Monday, amid heated debates about gun policy on social media, Stickland entered the fray on Facebook.
“Government can’t keep you ‘safe,’’’ he wrote. “That is your own job.” He added the hashtag “#constitutionalcarry.”
The post has received more than 3,000 likes.