Open Carry Faces Filibuster Threat in Senate

State Sen. José Rodríguez said Thursday that if the opportunity arises, he plans to filibuster a bill allowing the open carry of handguns in Texas.

State Sen. José Rodríguez, D-El Paso, said he would consider a filibuster on open carry legislation during a Texas Tribune event on May 28, 2015.

State Sen. José Rodríguez said Thursday that if the opportunity arises, he plans to filibuster a bill allowing the open carry of handguns in Texas. 

Speaking at a Texas Tribune event, the El Paso Democrat said he thought the legislation was "totally unnecessary" and presented a threat to the safety of police officers and the public.

"I think my back is problematical, but I assure you, for this issue, I will stand as long as I can," Rodríguez said.

The legislation — House Bill 910 from state Rep. Larry Phillips, R-Sherman — has already passed both chambers of the Legislature. It is headed to a conference committee, where Senate and House appointees must iron out key differences in the bill. 

Rodríguez's comments come after several lawmakers who support the legislation argued fiercely against allowing the bill to go to conference committee — insisting that the delay would open the door for a filibuster by opponents in the Senate. 

At the center of the disagreement between the two chambers is language that limits the power of law enforcement officials to ask those visibly carrying guns to present their permits. The provision, which critics say amounts to a backdoor effort to repeal licensing requirements for handgun-toting Texans altogether, has attracted forceful opposition from police chiefs in the state. 

Rodríguez, who was among a coalition of Democrats who amended the bill in the Senate, said he did so because he hoped the provision would become a reason for Gov. Greg Abbott to veto the legislation. 

"This was a strategy," he said. 

State Sen. Kelly Hancock, a North Richland Hills Republican who supports the proposal, said at Thursday's event that he was not concerned about the bill's prospects.

"It's their ability within the rules. I'm not worried about it," he said.