A bill that would allow Texans to carry a gun without a license is one stop closer to becoming law. House Bill 1927 now heads to the Texas Senate where it could be approved or rejected.
Texans have a lot of differing opinions on whether the so-called "Constitutional Carry" legislation would be helpful or harmful to human life and safety.
Women’s safety was brought up by member’s of the Texas House during debate over the bill.
"I’ve heard people say it would make their granddaughters safer," said Rep. Carl Sherman, TX-109. "It would make their wives safer."
Women have joined the throngs of men who’ve bought up guns and ammo since the pandemic began.
"Whenever you get locked up with your significant other, there was a lot of domestic violence or just women going out, and people aren’t making money, so the robbers and thieves and just the bar people are trying to rob people...even sexual assaults," said Javier Garcia, co-owner of HTX Tactical, relaying the stories he’s heard from women who’ve come to his gun store. "We’ve noticed a big influx of women coming in and purchasing firearms—especially first-time gun owners."
Sherrie Handrinos told FOX 26 she bought her first gun in January, after realizing she was the only one in her group of friends without one.
"You live alone—I have big dogs and stuff—but they’re like, you need to protect yourself," said Handrinos, recalling her conversation with her gun-owning friends. "She had her gun in her purse, and I was like, oh I don’t have one. And all of the guys at the table were like, what?"
The deep freeze power outage on top of the pandemic inspired her to learn how to use her gun.
"I’m so glad I have this incase something happens to me," said Handrinos. "You know it was creepy when we had no power. You’d drive down our street, and it was just black."
Handrinos shared her thoughts on the Constitutional Carry legislation.
"I do think if you’re safe with it and you know what you’re doing, and you’re using it for the right reasons, that’s not gonna change, ‘cause like he said earlier, a criminal is a criminal, right?" said Handrinos. "Someone that wants to do something for the wrong reasons is still gonna do it."
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If the bill passes the Texas Senate, people 21 and older would not need a license to carry a gun, but they would need to pass a background check to buy a gun.
Gun bans at schools and certain businesses would still be in place, but there is strong opinion each side of this argument.
Texas Rep. Carl Sherman said one of his concerns is that if police officers know more people are likely armed if Constitutional Carry passes, it could escalate tensions between police and the African American community.
"I don’t think that for people of color that you’ve considered the ramifications," said Sherman. "Mr. Schaeffer, are you familiar with the talk that African American parents have to give their children?"
In Houston’s Third Ward some agree with him, and others have their own opinions.
"In the State of Texas, we real serious about our right to bear arms," said Craig Royal. "It does level off the playing field some, so I’m all for it, if it’s responsible."
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"Tensions high by the police, but that’s not the issue," said Lewis Goode. "I’m talking about mental health issues as far as people walking around...minds not that sharp and they’re actually carrying a weapon or have a right to carry a weapon. I mean that’s gonna be some stuff. I just hope it doesn’t come to that."
"It’s really mainly about training," said Michael Breaux, an Army veteran. "It is gonna make stuff harder for police officers, ‘cause they’re already anxious about people having guns when they have a license, so to have everybody have them without a license is probably going to be nerve wracking and make them a little more jumpy."
"It’s necessary, but at the same time, we gotta be precautious and we gotta be mindful," said Damarcus Kincade.