Details of Texas’ compromise “constitutional carry” bill were released Sunday, as the bill nears Gov. Greg Abbott’s desk.

Members of a conference committee tasked with coming up with a version of the legislation agreeable to both the House and Senate announced Friday that a deal had been struck. The bill generally allows those 21 and older who aren’t otherwise prohibited from having a gun to carry a handgun without a license.

The legislation includes a sheriff-backed amendment that prohibits permitless carry for people convicted of certain misdemeanors in the past five years and increased penalties for felons who illegally carry a gun.

It also contains a change made in the Senate requiring the Texas Department of Public Safety to develop a free online course on firearm safety and training. Under the compromise version of the bill, the department would also be required to prepare an annual report on the number of people who applied for a handgun license.

House Bill 1927 went into a conference committee after the House didn’t accept the upper chamber’s changes to the legislation. Several of the changes were meant to make the bill more acceptable to some law enforcement officials. A conference committee is made up of five senators and five representatives.

When the bill headed into negotiations, the Sheriffs’ Association of Texas — which supports the bill as passed in the Senate — stressed the importance of keeping in the amendment related to misdemeanor convictions and an amendment striking language in the House’s version dealing with expunctions of convictions for offenses related to the unlawful possession of a firearm. The compromise version of the bill would, in some cases, allow for the expunction of unlawful carrying of a handgun convictions from before Sept. 1.

“The House and Senate had two priorities: To be sure that we protect Second Amendment rights for law abiding citizens who should be able to carry and for those convicted felons — dangerous people who can’t under the law now — to make it tougher for them to carry,” Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick told Spectrum News Friday.

The committee report now goes to the House and Senate for approval. If approved in both chambers, it heads to Abbott’s desk.


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