Starting with the new year and changes to state law, Houston METRO bus lines and light rail lines will allow passengers to exercise their civil rights by openly carrying a handgun. That’s great news, and not just for Houston’s METRO passengers. It’s great news for civil rights and for the supporters of the 2nd amendment. And it’s particularly great news because it is Houston . . .
I don’t know how many of you have ever taken the METRO lines in Houston, but its about as far away from a bunch of OFWGs as you can get. If you are a white male riding a downtown metro line, you will almost certainly be a minority in that car. And that’s because Houston is one of the great melting pots of our nation. For hundreds of thousands of people, it is the front door of America.
Being a proud Texas son, I am very familiar with the caricature of Texans to most of our nation and the world at large. Giant rich white people driving their pickups to survey their oil fields. And then they get to Houston, where its pretty hard to find that person. Houston is a minority-majority population. White people are now well under 50% of the population. A full 40% of the population speaks a language other than English. And for more than 40 years, since the fall of Saigon, Houston has been a key city for the resettlement of refugees. They’ve come from all over the world, including countries in Central America, Afghanistan, Iraq, Vietnam, Cambodia, Somalia, Rwanda, Burma, Myanmar, and many others.
Those people also disproportionally ride the METRO lines. These are people who come from countries and communities where the gun is often criminalized, and worn only by the criminal and the oppressor. By any factual measure, those with concealed carry permits in the state of Texas are far more responsible and law abiding than the rest of the population. And now these people, who are so used to being afraid of guns — some for good reason — will begin to see law abiding, responsible gun owners sitting right next to them.
They will see their friends and neighbors tooled up, ready to protect themselves, their families, and the other people in those seats. They’ll have conversations about “is that legal?” And they will find out that here, in America, it’s one of our protected and sacred rights. Like so many advances in our civil rights as Americans, fear will be replaced by acceptance, and then an eagerness to participate in the expression of those rights.
Sure, there will be people sitting next to someone legally carrying a gun who will call on law enforcement and then politicians to take those guns away. But that’s not going to work. Even so, I’m willing to bet that for every person who demands a gun owner’s rights be taken away, there will be five more that will start exercising their Second Amendment right to the fullest. So if you’re in Houston and riding the METRO, go OWB and strike up a polite conversation. There’s nothing like the zeal of a convert, and these new Americans, and new gun owners, will be the future of the American civil rights movement.