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An unexpected answer to the constitutional carry question.

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This morning, Chaiman Phil King responded to the thousands of phone calls and emails he has received on Constitutional Carry by bringing in a witness from the Attorney General’s office as back up. From King’s reaction to the witness’ statement, it seems evident he was not prepared for what he heard.

First, the backstory…

According to King, his office has received between 1 and 300 calls each day on these bills. In the last couple weeks, that pressure has been pushing HB 375, by Rep. Jonathan Stickland.

In fact, he said he had to delete 400 voicemails from his system in the last few days alone. He also bemoaned the angry tone of many of those calls.

As we have reported, the anger seems to stem from what activists see as a broken promise.

Leaders of Open Carry Texas, National Association for Gun Rights, Lone Star Gun Rights, Texas Carry, and Texas Firearms Freedom reported to their supporters weeks ago that a deal had been reached with Chairman King.

The supposed deal stipulated that King would advance HB 1911, and leave HB 375 pending. The caveat was that 1911 would be amended to satisfy most of the activists concerns with the bill.

Yet, when King brought 1911 to a vote, it was not the amended version activists were expecting. They were outraged and would soon ramp up pressure on King to bring 375 to a vote.

On the morning of the vote, King made a statement saying that Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office had “concerns” over both bills, relating to a child support provision. He said that the version of 1911 which they were voting on had alleviated those concerns, and that Stickland had not made the necessary changes to 375 to receive the committee’s blessing.

Immediately after the vote, the other Republican committee members stated that 1911 as presented had not gone far enough.

Later that night, AG Ken Paxton posted on his Facebook page that he supports Constitutional Carry. Later in the week, he clarified that as a legislator, he would vote for either bill. This seemed to contradict King’s assertion that 375 was unacceptable to the AG’s office.

And now that you’re caught up…

Today, King felt it necessary to bring in a member of the AG’s office to testify to the committee that Paxton’s office had indeed raised concerns about both bills, and that 1911 as passed, had addressed them.

The witness confirmed both statements.

King then asked the witness whether Stickland had addressed the AG’s concerns by changing 375. The witness answered that indeed, Stickland had not changed his bill. . .

But, then the witness declared to the committee that the AG’s office was ready to “forego” those concerns.

Clearly surprised, King asked, “So you’re informing me today, for the first time, and the committee, is that you are withdrawing the Attorney General’s office’s concern over the child support issue in HB 375?”

“Yes, sir,” responded the witness.

At this moment, King’s main argument against HB 375 fell apart. Every lawyer knows never to ask a question to which he does not the answer.

Without an excuse to kill HB 375, this was now the moment to move it forward. However, King still declined to bring it to a vote.

Effectively, the bill is now dead and activists are hoping that they can amend HB 1911 at a later stage to conform to their ideal legislation. They will now be preoccupied by the amendment battle, but if Constitutional Carry fails this session, today’s blunder could be a defining moment in their memory of and relationship with Chairman King.

The next step for HB 1911 is to clear the Calendars Committee and get to the House floor.

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