Senate Hearing: What You Need To Know

For help during the hearing: text 512-937-3006

What’s happening?

We’ve waited a year and a half for the legislature to be in session so we could promote firearms freedom legislation. Now it’s happening. Bills have been filed. Each bill has one public hearing when the people of Texas are invited to give testimony. That’s happening now for two gun bills in the Senate.

Public Hearing

Senate Committee on State Affairs

Thursday, February 12, 2015, 9:00 a.m.

Texas State Capitol in Austin, Hearing Room E1.016

The Bills

The bills being heard at this hearing are SB 17 (open carry for CHL holders) and SB 11 (campus carry for CHL holders).

We encourage you to read and study the bills because your testimony needs to be relevant to those bills.

Survival Guide for Committee Hearings

The point of these hearings is that we need to have as many people as possible show up and speak up to get our message heard and make progress on gun bills. So, we plan to stick it out all day long, and we all sign up to testify when we get there. Here are some things that will help you when you come join us.

What to bring:

  • Wear something professional. Wear a suit if you have one.
  • Bring food and water to last all day so you don’t have to leave the hearing room at all.
  • Bring phone chargers. Bring extra batteries if you have them.

Getting there:

  • Park in the Capitol Visitor Parking Garage.
  • Plan for traffic.
  • Hearing starts at 9 – try to be there by 8.
  • Take the elevator (located in the north wing) down to E1.
  • Currently it’s scheduled for Room E1.016. This may change.

Signing in:

  • Look for an electronic kiosk. You can also use your own laptop or tablet. Alternately, there may be paper cards.
  • They’ll want your name, employer, and contact info.
  • List the bill(s) you’re there for. SB 17 is licensed open carry, SB 11 is campus carry.
  • Give your position: for, against, or simply “ON”.  ON is a great option if you want to expand gun rights and are in favor of open carry and campus carry, but you want it to be unlicensed.
  • Tell whether you will give testimony. Specify verbal, written, or both.

Most important thing to remember: be prepared to stay many hours – as long as it takes – in order to get your chance to testify. 

Why I Am Not Testifying In Favor Of SB 17

Instead of testifying in favor of licensed open carry, I am choosing to testify ON the bill. This means that I am in favor of some ideas in the bill (I support the right to open carry), but I also think it needs to be changed (I think open carry should be allowed without a license). Here’s why.

A permit bespeaks something for which the government is granting permission; a right such as the right to keep and bear arms is not something that needs permission granted. Also, a fee paid for a permit is a tax. When we have to pay a tax to exercise a right, that right has been wrongly reduced to a privilege – something that the government has taken upon itself to be able to grant or deny. The government does not have authority to regulate a right through a permit system.  So, the government has no business requiring a CHL for citizens who wish to carry handguns.

This type of gun carry is called Constitutional Carry, because it recognizes the Constitution as our gun carry permit – no other permit is necessary. It’s referred to as Vermont-style carry, but other states have also adopted it, including Arizona, Alaska, Wyoming, and even Arkansas. Additionally, many more states allow open carry of handguns without a permit.

Expect the Unexpected

  • It could move fast….it could move very slowly.
  • You may be there all day….maybe late into the night.
  • Witnesses are not necessarily called in order of registering. The chair determines order.
  • Both bills may be presented together, meaning you get 2 minutes total. Or, they may present one first with all its testimony, then the other with all its testimony (in which case you get 2 minutes on each, but there will be a long wait between).
  • Witnesses may be called up in groups to make the process efficient.
  • They may question you after you finish. If they do, it’s a good thing so be glad.

What To Say:

Begin with (1) your name, (2) your position, and (3) the bill number(s). For example, “Hi, my name is John Smith and I’m testifying ON SB 17 and SB 11.”  Then proceed to give your testimony.

Do:

  • Be relevant – don’t talk about other bills. Stay on the bill(s) at hand.
  • Be true. Check your facts carefully.
  • Be clear and to the point.
  • Stay professional.
  • Tell them what you want them to do with THESE bills.

Don’t:

  • Start talking about other bills.
  • Personally attack anyone.
  • Be scared.

Remember, it’s your right to be here. You’re awesome for coming! And your presence will make a difference.

Testimony Ideas:

  • Tell a personal story (yours, or someone you know)
  • Tell how the bill would affect you
  • Give facts and statistics - gunfacts.info is helpful. Again, check your sources.
  • Use logical reasoning.
  • Offer analogies.
  • Speak to the truth of the Constitution and our rights.

TIP: Have *one* strong message that you’re trying to communicate. Focus your efforts on communicating that one thing effectively. Don’t try to say everything that could ever be said. Say what’s most important to you.

Other suggestions:

  • Build credibility through your appearance and sound testimony.
  • Surprise them with something unexpected or shocking (but true).
  • Make an emotional connection. Remember they are people, too.

Remember: Testimony may be given verbally (limited to 2 minutes/person) and/or in written form (bring 20 copies).

Helpful Links:

From Texas Legislature Online:

Updates and Announcements:

More Resources:

For Help During The Hearing: text 512-937-3006 

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