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.’