AUSTIN, TX — Women gun owners seem to have had an out-sized influence on the constitutional carry bill passed by Texas lawmakers.
A group from "The Republican Women of McLennan County" became a driving force for getting the bill passed in Austin. The leader of the group and one other stood out, with the "other" practically becoming the face of the bill, for her drive and determination.
When you're looking to win hearts and minds, experts say, choose a spokesperson that connects with people.
Perhaps that's how Destiny Hallman ended up become the leading citizen spokesperson for the recent Constitutional Carry bill; she's got an unassuming charm that sneaks up on you, and she has a knack for boiling down controversial ideas to their simplest terms.
We sat down to talk to Hallman in a mock-up of the room where our founding fathers drew up our constitution.
"Criminals have carried without a license, and they will continue to carry without a license," said Hallman. "It's very important we give law abiding citizens the same rights the criminals currently have."
For a long time, the rules governing Texas License to Carry included being 21 year of age or older, passing a criminal background check, four to six hours of online or classroom training, and passing a written exam along with a proficiency test with your gun.
The new legislation wipes away all those rules, and supporters say, brings us closer to what they say the founding father's intended.
"You've got to remember, that when America was first getting started, we were fightin' a war against the British. and the colonists actually had their own guns," said Hallman.
She says James Madison realized Americans needed to protect themselves from invaders so he proposed, in the very first Congress, what would later become America's Second Amendment.
Hallman said she knows what she's talking about, as the manager and director of tours for the Taylor Museum she's always had affection for the museum's displays on history and the United States constitution.
Outside of work, Hallman has been a bona-fide, Rootin'-tootin' Texan all her life; she grew up with guns and collects them today, even partaking in historical re-enactments with her guns. And it looks like Hallman is not alone.
Women made 40 percent of gun purchases in 2020 with almost half of the record breaking 20 millions guns sold last year, sold to first time buyers.
That kind of familiarity with her subject made her fast friends at the Capitol. She testified on the gun bill more than any other person, we're told, putting women, and especially those from McClennan County, in the driver's seat on this topic.
Karen Lane who led the Republican women shepherding the bill through the legislature, said Hallman's help was very influential.
"She, and everybody just did what they needed to do, kind of, got their marching orders and the marching orders (suggested by the Gun Owners of America) made so much sense," Lane said.
But still, critics disagreed with doing away with almost all regulation, explaining it in terms of the trouble it might cause for police.
"This will absolutely throw everything into disarray for any law enforcement officer because you have to assume with this bill that everybody and any body can be carrying a gun," reasoned former law officer Stella Ortega, a former law officer who attended an El Paso Protest against the bill.
Even with the El Paso and Midland-Odessa shootings, observers said, opponents had what looked to many like an uphill battle.
And as Democrats have made inroads to the state's biggest cities, Governor Abbott’s signature on the gun bill makes it clear, conservatives remain in control at the capitol.
Hallman herself has shown political skills that might serve her well, should she consider a career here, based on her last argument to a legislative committee about the gun law, according to some.
"If you believe in the 2nd amendment, I find you cannot actually believe in this license to carry - because the license to carry does infringe on your 2nd amendment rights," Hallman said.
So, with a win under her belt and a growing reputation for plain talk, you might think Hallman might take a minute to take a bow. Instead, she's already thinking about her next project.
"Texas is involved in constitutional carry, and Texans will be safer for that reason," Hallman said.