Committee mulls easing gun license ‘burden’
By Richard Lee
Texas Senate News
TEXANS seeking a license-to-carry firearms permit would see a much smaller fee under a bill considered by the senate’s state affairs committee on Monday.
If bill author and Jacksonville senator Robert Nichols has his way, he says Texas will go from the “burden” of being one of the nation’s most expensive states for carrying handguns to one of the cheapest.
Nichols said he was introducing the bill because the current fee of $140 to apply for a license that permits concealed and open carry of handguns in the state is among the highest in the nation.
He said: “These fees impose an undue burden on people’s constitutional right to bear arms as it relates to concealed carry or license to carry. This will take Texas from having one of the highest fees in the nation to one of the lowest in the nation and still covers what I believe to be the real cost of running the program.”
His proposal, senate bill 16, would reduce the application fee to $40 for the initial license and cut the renewal fee from $70 every five years to $40 as well.
He told the committee members his original idea had been to eliminate all fees for application and renewal but, with state revenue tight this year, he changed his proposals to cover the public safety department’s costs of managing the program.
It costs DPS $27 to conduct a background check on license-to-carry applicants and there are further incidental costs relating to processing and management that raise the total to about $40 per applicant.
In order to receive an LTC permit, applicants must take a four-to-six-hour class, pass a written test and then demonstrate adequate proficiency with a handgun at a gun range.
The committee also considered a few bills that would relax or change some of those requirements for certain people.
One, SB 263 by senator Charles Perry, would remove the minimum caliber requirement for range qualification. At present, people are required to use a handgun of at least 0.32-inch caliber to demonstrate proficiency, but supporters argue that this could present difficulty at the range for people accustomed to using smaller-caliber handguns.
Another bill by Perry, SB 264, would waive the range requirement for county jailers and state corrections officers because they receive handgun training as part of their profession.
Similarly, Plano senator Van Taylor offered a bill, SB 138, to exempt active and retired military-service members from the proficiency demonstration if they have gained a military-range qualification in the past ten years because they would have already received much more rigorous firearms training during their military service.
All four bills passed the committee unanimously.
Creighton birth bill moves on
THE TEXAS senate tentatively approved a bill in which senator Brandon Creighton seeks to remove “wrongful birth” lawsuits in the state.
SB 25 author Creighton, whose district includes Bolivar peninsula, says the 40-year-old current law, under which a doctor can be sued for delivering a child with a disability, is archaic and sends the wrong message about people with disabilities in Texas.
He said: “We should not coin a child born with a disability as an injury. We should not create that negative connotation and a physician should not be liable in any way because a child is simply born disabled, as long as that physician did everything in that standard of care that’s accepted.”
Opponents of the bill raised concerns that it might permit a doctor who opposes abortion to withhold information about congenital anomalies that might make a mother decide to seek an abortion.
Creighton disagreed, saying that doctors would still be required under other statutes
to meet existing standards of care and disclosure and that those statutes provide parents with adequate remedy for malpractice.
He said: “If a physician omits critical information that a patient deserves, or directs a patient towards an outcome that is different than what the testing has shown, they are very much on the hook for malpractice, fraud, emotional distress, gross negligence and losing their license”. –Richard Lee, Texas Senate News