AUSTIN (NEXSTAR) — The Senate Committee on State Affairs advanced a bill that would cut costs for applying for a gun license by $100 in a unanimous vote Monday afternoon.
Currently, Texas has one of the highest fees for a gun license in the country. Senate Bill 16 would make it one of the lowest, dropping the price tag on a permit to carry from $140 to just $40 and lowering the license renewal fee from $70 to $40.
“I don’t feel like cost is something that should prevent me from protecting myself and my family,” said one woman who testified in support of the bill.
While no one spoke out against the bill during public testimony, people on both sides of the gun debate argue the proposal doesn’t go far enough. “The gun rights advocates have a point that we have one of highest fees in the country. However, we have one the biggest gun violence problems in the country,” said Andrea Brauer, executive director of Texas Gun Sense.
Brauer urged lawmakers to add “a few extra dollars” to fund a firearm safety and storage education campaign. “Yes, we need to protect our gun rights and we need to make the gun enthusiasts happy,” Braurer said. “But what about the right to life and the kids and the deaths and the problem that we have in Texas, when are we going to step up and address that?”
The author of SB 16, State Senator Robert Nichols, R-Jacksonville, said the proposed prices cover the state’s costs to process permit applications. While gun rights activists don’t oppose the bill, some don’t support it either — pushing for the right to carry without a permit at all.
“To say that government should still be able to force you to beg for permission, but we’ll just charge you less for it,” Zach Lautenschlager, vice president of political affairs for the National Association for Gun Rights, said. “It’s outrageous. Constitutional carry is the answer.”
Advocates for gun safety strongly oppose Constitutional carry, a proposal that failed in the last legislative session but is back on the table this year. The Texas House Committee on Homeland Security and Public Safety takes up a bill Tuesday that would eliminate the fee for a gun license altogether.
That’s what SB 16 initially called for but Nichols said the bill was revised because the estimated revenue loss for the state was too high.