The Texas Senate, which originally voted hotels to allow guests to bring handguns into their rooms, expanded them to include all firearms in a Friday move that fixed a change in the house.
At the beginning of this session, the Senate had voted 27 to 4 for the pistol version of Senate Law 20. The measure would end the hotels’ right to prevent guests from bringing guns into their rooms.
The house had approved the amended version of the bill on Monday, according to which it applies to all firearms. The Senate voted 22-9 on Friday to approve this change and send the bill to Governor Greg Abbott, who can hardly imagine he won’t put it into law.
Senate sponsor Donna Campbell, R-New Braunfels, motioned Friday to follow the broader version of the house. However, the Senate approval on Friday was not without tension between the sponsor and Senator José Menéndez, D-San Antonio.
“The difference between pistol and firearm seems to be quite big,” Menéndez told Campbell. “A firearm, let’s use a worst-case scenario, could that involve a bazooka?”
The bill only applies to legal firearms, Campbell said. And by law, while hotels are no longer allowed to ban guns and ammunition in rooms, they can require them to be carried in certain cases. The goal, she said, is to prevent the theft of guns in vehicles in hotel parking lots. She mentioned long guns that were transported for hunting, sport shooting, and other legal purposes.
About four minutes into the discussion, when Campbell was trying to get the vote, Menéndez asked “to let us talk about it for five or ten minutes”.
Campbell: I’ve talked to everyone and said they’ll be firearms. So I’d rather go on. I mean you can vote no. “
Menéndez stated that he had a point of procedure that he believed could kill the bill and said, “Or I could invoke a point of order on your bill. And I do not want that. I just want five minutes to discuss it. “
Campbell agreed to a temporary pause, at which point Menéndez told her, “I totally agree with what your calculation is trying to do. The last thing we need is more stolen long guns, all gun violence in the state. “
To make the legislative intent clear, Menéndez reiterated that the bill would allow hotels to set rules for how guns and ammunition are brought into guest rooms so that guns “don’t scare some people or make them uncomfortable because the last what we need is say you walk in with your guns loaded and ready to go and all that, or that you got a drop and accidentally discharged. “
During this year’s debate on the measure, opponents have raised concerns based on the October 2017 mass shootings from a Las Vegas hotel room at the Mandalay Bay Hotel, which killed 60 people and injured more than 400 before the shooter killed himself.
“I don’t know that any rule, regulation, or law we can put in place can prevent someone from sneaking into an M-16 or AR-15 that they can use for mass shootings,” said Sen. Juan Hinojosa, D-McAllen.
Campbell agreed, “There is no law preventing a criminal or person from doing anything illegally with the malicious intent of harming anyone.”