Texans love their guns, and there’s no going back.
That’s the sentiment two state representatives conveyed Tuesday about recent laws that let licensed Texans openly carry handguns and will allow concealed guns to be carried on some college campuses next fall.
“I can’t see that we are going back any,” said state Rep. Craig Goldman, R-Fort Worth.
State Rep. Stephanie Klick, R-Fort Worth, agreed, noting that while the state increased funding for mental health issues, “I don’t see that we are going back on this as far as the Second Amendment” is concerned.
Not at this time.
state Reps. Craig Goldman and Stephanie Klick, both Fort Worth Republicans, of the need for additional gun restrictions
When asked if additional gun restrictions were needed, both said, “not at this time.”
But state Rep. Ramon Romero Jr., D-Fort Worth, said this state makes it too easy for Texans to get guns.
“We want people to carry IDs and Social Security cards to track you,” Romero said. “We don’t track our guns, and how many of those guns are going across the border?”
Romero, who said he is a gun owner, said he believes state lawmakers passed open carry to fulfill a pledge made to a minority of Texans.
“Give them credit: They executed on a promise, a political promise,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s good for Texas or not.”
The three state lawmakers addressed a number of issues Tuesday during a lunchtime conversation with the Texas Tribune’s Evan Smith. The event drew more than 100 people to TCU’s Brown-Lupton Student Union.
A record pace
Texans are seeking licenses to carry handguns at a record pace.
In Texas, 966,222 active licenses to carry have been issued, including nearly 70,000 in Tarrant County.
Between December 2015 and February 2016, the state received 136,000 applications for licenses — a 139 percent increase over the same time period the year before, state records show.
Statewide, there are 966,222 active licenses to carry. Nearly 70,000 of those are in Tarrant County, according to Texas Department of Public Safety records through the end of February.
The demand for licenses has become so great that DPS officials ask Texans to carefully review their applications and fill them out properly.
“In response to the increased volume of applications, DPS has increased staffing strength [hiring additional personnel and initiating an overtime project involving multiple shifts, seven days a week] and resources to help ensure compliance with the statutory processing time frames for original and renewal applications,” the DPS said in a statement.
Smith, editor-in-chief of the online Texas Tribune, also asked lawmakers about campus carry and the fact that all private universities in Texas that have weighed in on the issue, including TCU, will not allow concealed handguns on their campuses.
Public universities were not given the choice to ban guns, although they are allowed to propose various “gun-free” zones on campus.
Goldman and Klick noted that the law is geared to let Texans defend themselves.
“We will see how it goes,” Romero responded.
The conversation touched on other issues, including border security, whether the state will have enough funding to cover the current budget in light of lower oil prices, infrastructure needs, funding for schools and healthcare, and property tax cuts.
They were asked what issues should be on the radar screen when the Legislature heads into its next session in 2017.
The unintended consequences of giving property tax cuts to Texans, Romero said.
Infectious diseases such as the mosquito-borne Zika, Klick said.
Deregulating different industries, Goldman said, adding, “There’s a whole bunch of these that need to be taken off the books.”
They were also asked about a potential President Donald Trump.
Goldman and Klick said they aren’t Trump supporters but will support the Republican Party’s presidential nominee.
Romero, a Hillary Clinton supporter, told the crowd about how, when he was growing up, many children dreamed of being either an astronaut or president.
Today, the Republican Party is saying ‘Donald Trump is the best we can offer from our side’ .... [Democrats] are doing much better.
state Rep. Ramon Romero Jr., D-Fort Worth
“Today, the Republican Party is saying ‘Donald Trump is the best we can offer from our side,’ ” he said. “I think [Democrats] are doing much better.”