I am a naturalized Texan. I was born, next door, in Louisiana, and as the bumper stickers in the Lone Star State say “I got here as quick as I could.” Everything’s bigger in Texas, including reputations. Case in point, our reputation for “Wild West”-style gun laws. But like the legend on the passenger side of cars, “Objects in mirror may be smaller than they appear.”

For some reason, you say “Texas” outside the Lone Star State, and you get lots of misconceptions. No, we don’t all wear boots and ten gallon hats. We don’t all ride horses to work. And we don’t have the most liberal gun laws in the nation. In fact, I’d rate Texas gun laws as kind of “middle of the road” when it comes to the national average.

For instance, we have no open carry law on the books. We are forbidden to carry in an establishment that gets more than 50% of their income through the sale of alcohol, even if we don’t consume alcohol while we are in the bar. We have to present our CHL any time we’re stopped for so much as a traffic violation, and voluntarily disclose if we are carrying. If we don’t, we can – and will – lose our license to carry concealed.

With two months left in the session, it may sound like the Texas Legislature has plenty of time to consider and act on legislation of importance to gun owners and sportsmen.  In actuality, the deadline for the House to consider House bills is May 12, less than a month and a half away.  Time last week was taken-up with action on the voter identification bill, debate on the budget is expected to last over three days this week, and the House will be considering redistricting plans and major state agency sunset legislation in coming weeks.

In the 2009 legislative session, a law that would have insured our rights to transport and store firearms in locked, private vehicles on our employer’s lots died in the House, when State Democrats buried it along with a Voter ID bill. (The Texas State legislature meets for 140 days every two years. Some insist that was a typo in the State Constitution, and it should have been “meets for two days every 140 years.” But I digress.)

In the 2011 session, the Senate has passed Senate Bill 321 which is designed to get the “Parking Lot Carry” law on the books. Over in the House, Bill 681 (Their version of Parking Lot Carry) has been reported out of the Business & Industry committee. That’s the good news. Problem is, it’s way too easy for procedural crap to flush bills right down the legislative toilet.

In the House, everything has to pass through the House Calendars Committee, the group that determines which bills get heard on the House floor. And which bills don’t. Another bill that’s pending (read: awaiting it’s ultimate fate) in Calendars is House Bill 750 – the one that will allow teachers as well as students over the age of 21 who hold a valid CHL, to carry on college campuses.

So my question is, What’s up with Texas? You’d think with our reputation, we’d be leading the nation in the reform of gun laws. Nope. That would be Florida, or a handful of other states. I figure, if we’re gonna have the reputation as some kind of state-wide Dodge City, we might as well have laws that reflect that rep.

So, if you’re a resident of the Great State of Texas and you’re just a-hankerin’ to open up a can o’ whup-ass on an elected official, Here’s some that you can call and verbally pursuade to see things in a more favorable light to Heller, McDonald, and the 2nd. Politely (please!) urge them to support HB 681 and 750, and get them on the House calendar as soon as possible. Time’s a-wastin.’

House Speaker Joe Straus (R-San Antonio)
To send an email, click here

Todd Hunter (R-Corpus Christi), Chairman

Dennis Bonnen (R-Angleton), Vice Chairman

Dan Branch (R-Dallas)

Byron Cook (R-Corsicana)

Charlie Geren (R-River Oaks)

Jim Keffer (R-Eastland)

Tracy King (D-Eagle Pass)

Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham)

Eddie Lucio III (D-San Benito)

Allan Ritter (R-Nederland)

Burt Solomons (R-Carrollton)

Vicki Truitt (R-Southlake)

John Zerwas (R-Simonton)

john.zerwas@house.state.tx.us

23 Responses to What’s up with Texas?

  1. While researching this story, I heard another one:

    Seems a guy cruises thru a stop sign, or whatever, and gets pulled over by a local policeman. Guy hands the cop his driver’s license, insurance verification, plus his concealed carry permit.

    “Okay, Mr. Smith,” the cop says, “I see you have a CHL permit. Are you carrying today?”

    “Yessir, I am, replied Smith.

    “Well then, better tell me what you got.”

    Smith says, “Well, I got a .357 revolver in my inside coat pocket. There’s a 9mm semi-auto in the glove box. And, I’ve got a .22 magnum derringer in my right boot.”

    “Okay,” the cop says. “Anything else?”

    “Yeah, back in the trunk, there’s an AR15 and a shotgun. That’s about it.”

    “Mr. Smith, are you on your way to or from a gun range…?”

    “Nope.”

    “Well then,” queried the officer, “what are you afraid of…?”

    “Not a damn thing…”

  2. I’m going to email everyone single person you listed and I don’t even live anywhere near Texas. I’m also sending my dad the joke, he’s going to love it.

  3. A friend of my dad’s sold his boat when moving to Texas because he thought it was all dry and he wouldn’t be able to use it anywhere. Sadly it is true that people believe the stereotypes that they see on TV. That first X-Files movie portrayed the area around Dallas as a desert and there were mountains around, I’m wondering how many people think the area is actually like that now.

  4. Vermont is the model state. Florida is New Jersey with Palm trees (ok, it’s not quite that bad). Utah is the model state for “prohibited places” (only courthouses and jails prohibited). Schools, elementary through college, specifically authorized for permit holders.

    OK, FL, and TX are fighting for Open Carry this session. OK unlicensed, the other two for permit holders.

    http://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2011/0234

    http://www.legis.state.tx.us/BillLookup/History.aspx?LegSess=82R&Bill=HB2756

    • I think states where historically the center of power has been urban (think NY and IL) tend to have incongruously restrictive laws-that might explain TX. In states with large but recent urban populations like VA and GA the laws tend to reflect the disproportionate residual influence of rural areas. Not that I am complaining as far as gun laws, but it also impacts highway spending. Just because it’s easier to add a lane to route BFE 12 than I-95 doesn’t mean it helps alleviate traffic (anywhere there is traffic).

  5. For a very good history lesson on how we got here, I recommend checking out the latest issue of “First Freedom” the NRA magazine. There is an excellent article that shows that most of the restrictive firearm laws that we have today are with us because the various states (including our Texas) were attempting to prevent former slaves from obtaining guns.

  6. Washington is quite good as such things go. The #1 annoyance is that guns aren’t allowed (open or concealed) in bars and the bar area of restaurants. On the good side, I received my carry permit in under two weeks with no training requirement; and unlike Texas or Tennessee, businesses can request that patrons not carry concealed, but such requests have no more legal force than a sign banning tighty-whiteys.

    On the other hand, as Nevada gets alcohol and gambling right, you’d expect them to score well on firearms; but sadly, their CCW licensing scheme is more like Massachusetts with shall-issue than Utah, Washington, or even Oregon.

  7. What the hell is going on in America? I can use my state issued driver’s license all across the nation I served, but have to pick and choose which states I may legally carry as I pass through! I am seeking to declare my truck and motorcycle as a sovereign state while on the road…

  8. In Indiana, we have the “employee parking lot gun law.” During it’s debate, I found myself, for the first time, on the same side as the anti-gun wackos and liberal hippie pot-smokers. Our country’s greatness is based on, I believe, one thing only. From this one thing – springs our great liberty and freedom

    Private Property Rights.

  9. To: IndyEric;

    Did you share the pot with the hippies? What do you think your, or my, vehicle is if not PRIVATE PROPERTY? I have every Right to possess the means to defend my life, family, property, and Freedom ANYWHERE I happen to be at any time. Those “gun free safety zones” have worked out soooo well, like at Columbine, Virginia Tech, etc., eh? Wasn’t all that long ago it was LEGAL to carry on airplanes; ask any pilot over 50. Add to this that the employers/property owners cannot be held responsible for your safety and protection from a crazed killer, on top of which the U.S. Supreme Court, and many lower courts, have ruled that the police have NO LEGAL DUTY OR OBLIGATION to protect any individual citizen from harm. This being the case, who is responsible for YOUR safety? (Hint: look in the mirror, Einstein)
    It is my position that self-preservation overrules private property rights.

    TSgt B
    USAF, Retired

  10. “Better to be judged by twelve than carried by six.” – gun-toter’s axiom
    The CWC permit laws (pick your state) do not prevent CWC permit holders from carrying in prohibited places. Such laws merely proscribe punishment for those who are CAUGHT doing so. If life is truly a series of choices, one should carefully weigh the risk to reward ratio of the options offerred: Option 1] If I leave my firearm in my car before entering a bar/courthouse/parade/school (pick your banned site), I risk losing my life to the illegal action of some criminal or sociopath. Option 2] If I carry my concealed weapon onto the banned site (the operative word here is “CONCEALED”, as in Who knows I’m packing?), I risk losing my permit to carry concealed. Lose my life or lose my permit. What to do…what to do?
    Important note: SCOTUS has consistently ruled the very persons authorized to enforce the CWC gun-ban sites are not responsible for my safety? Before reporting me to the authorities, you might want to read that last line again.
    Since the definition of infringed remains the same today as it was in the 18th century when the Bill of Rights was ratified, one must ask: exactly what part of “shall not be infringed” remains open to further clarification?

  11. Personally I appreciate the existence of Texas in our union. They lead the way in conservative values in many cases and often aren’t abashed in doing so. That’s something I can appreciate.

  12. I moved to Texas 35 years ago from a “Peoples’ Republik” state not so much to escape from the draconian gun laws that were being introduced in my former home state, but because of job opportunities, lower cost of living, and positive quality of life issues in Texas.

    Now when I go to visit relatives in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York, DC, and Maryland, I have to be careful about what I carry, even under HR218 (peace officer carry).

    We were warned in a department in-service where HR218 was explained to us not to have HP ammo in some states while traveling, and not to have magazines over 10 in other states. Because of this idiocy, I rarely visit relatives in some of those states.

    On a recent road trip to visit my daughter and grand child in Georgia, I drove through Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama to get to Georgia, and had no discomfort carrying concealed, with JHP ammo and HiCap magazines in those states.

    The only time I locked up my weapon on the trip to Georgia (in an in-room hotel safe) was before going into the casino area of hotels we stayed at in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. I am not comfortable about carrying in a casino, and want to avoid any possible issues.

    Otherwise, I follow the old American Express axiom, “Don’t leave home without it!”

    Texas Deputy
    I got to Texas as soon as I could ….

  13. In Missouri, if you are in a designated gun free zone (hospitals, schools etc), it is considered an infraction, not a felony. And if said owner or manager of said gun free zones happens to notice a print or sight of a gun and ask you to leave, there is no infraction. But if you refuse (and if you do, then you really don’t belong having a CCW), and the local LEO is called, then you are in deep doodoo, and they will take your CCW away for 30 days and a $100.00 fine for the first offense. If you’re stupid enough to get caught again in the same six month period the fines and revocation is longer. Who knew Missouri would be more acceptable of gun rights, than some states (like Texas).

  14. Brad,

    Good article, but I must correct a mistake you made. “We have to present our CHL any time we’re stopped for so much as a traffic violation, and voluntarily disclose if we are carrying. If we don’t, we can – and will – lose our license to carry concealed.” This is not true anymore, and in fact, there are no laws on the books to describe punishment for such an “offense”. This used to be the law, but is not any longer. The only reason you MUST show an officer your CHL is if you are carrying concealed on your person, if it is in the car console it falls under the Castle Doctrine. Texas cops can see your CHL status when they run your plates, but you do not have to tell them you are a CHL holder if you are not carrying concealed.

    • Your CHL is not tied to your plates. They will see you have a CHL when they run your Drivers License. The suspension for failure to display a CHL to LEO was struck from Texas Code in the last session, as Jordan said.

      As my CHL instructor said, it is always best to present it, even if you are not carrying your gun. Otherwise the officer may “show you his” when he comes back from running your DL, and sees that you could be armed.

  15. Howdy,

    The Oklahoma State Rifle pulled the rug out from under the “open carry” movement in Oklahoma by comming out against “open carry”. I have called around about “open carry” in Texas, and the Texas State Rifle Association and the National Rifle Association do not support “open carry”. They will not say it directly but after I had a phone talk with them and snail mail chat, I have red between the lines. This year anyway “open carry” is likely a lost-cause.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *