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The state of Texas and the U.S. District Court in Fort Worth delivered a last-minute holiday gift to young Texas adults ages 18, 19, and 20.
On Tuesday, December 20, 113 days after District judge Mark Pittman ruled that state laws restricting handgun carry to those 21 and older were unconstitutional, and 91 days after filing a notice of intent to appeal, Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw withdrew the appeal. The order dismissing the appeal was filed on Wednesday, and the ruling became final.
While many in the pro-2A community loudly condemned McCraw and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, those familiar with how the legal/political system works believed that the notice of appeal was purely a delaying tactic to allow the matter to be shifted closer to the opening of the 88th Session of the Texas Legislature on January 10, 2023.
Judge Pittman said that either lowering the minimum age to apply for a Texas License to Carry or expanding the Texas Carry Act to include those 18 years and older would be an acceptable remedy. Since all this just happened, there hasn’t been an opportunity for a legislator to file a bill that would indicate which avenue was more likely.
The Democratic minority will most likely press for the LTC option, since that’s the best outcome they can hope for even though it will likely doom several pre-filed measures calling for raising the age for purchasing certain types of firearms to 21 – although those were probably doomed the moment they were filed.
The Republican majorities in the House and Senate will be the ones to make the choice. Will they go with fully vesting the constitutional rights of law-abiding young adults to carry a handgun without a permit? Or will they choose to lower the age for the LTC, which might be easier from a political point of view?
If the Legislature isn’t going to expand the Texas Carry Act, then it needs to streamline the LTC process. As TSRA Legislative Director Andi Turner said in an earlier article, the Texas Legislature needs to make allowances for these young adults. In addition, the Legislature needs to streamline the process for all Texans and remove inquiries that have nothing to do with our Second Amendment rights to keep and bear arms.
The TSRA-PAC will be watching for new bills to be pre-filed in the remaining 19 days before the session opens and we’ll keep you informed of any developments.