Republicans hold a somewhat narrow a 83-to-67 seat majority in the Texas state House, but a bill to let people carry concealed handguns without a permit during state-declared disasters passed by an overwhelming 102 to 29 vote. For 7 days after the disaster is declared, people are allowed to carry while evacuating or re-entering the disaster area. A copy of the bill is available here.
From 2001 to 2018, Texas governors declared a total of 39 states of disaster — only about 2 per year. In 92 instances, the state of disaster was extended. This means that legal gun owners are able to carry for an average of 7.3 weeks per year, and only in those parts of Texas with these declarations. On average, 37 of Texas’ 254 counties are affected by these declarations — about 15% of the state’s counties.
The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Dade Phelan (R), explained his position this way:
“I don’t want someone to feel like they have to leave their firearms back in an unsecured home for a week or longer, and we all know how looting occurs in storms. Entire neighborhoods are empty and these people can just go shopping, and one of the things they’re looking for is firearms.”