GARLAND (CBSDFW.COM) – Tom Mannewitz has owned the Targetmaster Indoor Shooting Center in Garland since 1979.
He supports open-carry, which lawmakers approved in 2015, allowing people to carry handguns openly just the same as long rifles.
But Mannewitz said he opposes a new bill that would make licensing to carry a handgun, required education classes and fees — optional.
“I understand why people would like to have constitutional carry but I have to say I would vote against it. Not everybody should be carrying a gun. Not everybody has the right to own a gun. If the police have some way of determining are you licensed or not, I think that’s an asset to the law enforcement community,” he said.
“We don’t think Texans should have to pay for the right to exercise their 2nd Amendment rights,” said the man who filed the legislation, HB 375, Republican State Representative Jonathan Stickland of Bedford.
Stickland said his bill would make the rules for handguns the same as they already are for long rifles.
“What my bill is not… it is not an expansion of who can carry. Under constitutional carry, anyone who is eligible for a CHL now would be able to carry. No one new would be able to carry.”
He said under his legislation, people would still need to pass a federal background check when buying a firearm. But Mannewitz said he also wants the state to continue doing background checks for those who are carrying guns.
The state license costs $140 for the first time and $70 for renewal every five years after that. Once a gun owner reaches the age of 60, the cost of the license drops to $35.
Stickland though believes the cost of the required license and class can be prohibitive to people with lower incomes.
He said some gun shop owners oppose his bill because they may lose a lot of money if the gun safety classes are no longer required.
But Mannewitz said the income he generates from those classes is half of one percent of his gross revenues.
Democratic State Representative Eric Johnson of Dallas strongly disagrees with Stickland’s bill.
“I have a real problem with the idea of unlicensed open carry. It’s asking for trouble. It’s just beyond the pale. I have a real problem with open carry in large urban areas like Dallas,” he said.
As a result, Johnson has proposed his own bill, HB 291, that would exempt Dallas from open carry.
He said cities should have a choice to opt-out. “Public safety is a local matter for the most part. Police chiefs, city councils, and mayors should be able to make determinations, particularly in cities the size of Dallas, whether or not they want people to openly carry in their city limits.”
Johnson said if other lawmakers want to exempt their cities from open-carry, he would welcome it and amend his bill.
Stickland strongly disagrees with Johnson’s legislation. “This is absolutely ridiculous. What people have forgotten is cities are the creation of states. They are not sovereign on their own. I would oppose any effort to allow a city to change folks’ constitutional rights.”
Johnson though said, “This is a slippery slope towards eroding local control and also the slippery slope of re-defining what the second amendment actually says. It does not ensure anyone’s right to openly carry a firearm.”
Mannewitz of Targetmaster agrees with Stickland and opposes Johnson’s legislation.
“What makes Dallas different from Houston, San Antonio, Fort Worth, and Garland? The law was passed many years ago that said the state cannot restrict you where you carry your gun. So why should a city be able to do it?”
The legislature will begin its upcoming session in Austin January 10th.
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