TTAG reader DH writes:
The House Committee on Homeland Security and Public Safety of the Texas Legislature held hearing on HB910 (Open Carry) and HB937 (Campus Carry). Chairman Phillips, the author of HB910 limited public comments to 2 minutes, vice the normal 3, because of the number of people providing testimony. There were no invited witnesses, and the public commenters were a mix of representatives of various organizations on both sides of the issue, as well as number of private citizens. Chairman Phillips and Rep Molly White were the predominate pro-gun voices on the committee, with the Vice-Chair, Rep Pancho “Panic Button” Nevarez the primary antagonist of the pro-gun commenters . . .
I watched the morning session, but missed the first hour or so of the second session. From the portions I saw, most of the testimony was what you would expect. The Moms, academics and liberal student organizations were there with the standard “blood will flow” emotional arguments with few or skewed facts. My personal favorite is the “guns on campus will suppress the free exchange of ideas and debate” justification…last time I checked, academia has done a pretty good job of squashing any opinions that run counter to its own.
Also noted was the MDA’s tactic of sending women who claimed to be gun owners into the fray, using the “I’m a mom and a gun owner, but…” line. A few of the antis tried to push the “opt out” option for local communities and universities. They’ve seized on the local control issue, because that’s another hot topic in the legislature right now. The pro-gun commenters were a mixed bag of those making the constitutional arguments, those using data to support their arguments and those with personal stories.
There were a couple of noteworthy exchanges, with the Chair taking the wind out of the Houston Police Dept’s retention argument and the Austin Police Dept’s contention that they wouldn’t be able to tell who the bad guy was.
The most powerful, in my opinion was an ex-con.
His comment was basically that having spent 17 years in a Texas prison, he saw the evil that is out there and no one should be stripped of the right to defend themselves against it.
A Fort Hood survivor testified that things might be different had he been carrying that day. Another gentleman, who testified that he was not a CHL holder and didn’t intend to become one, said he supported the bills because he wanted to make sure there were people with guns around just in case.
The most pathetic testimony (followed by the surprise of the day) came during testimony from a Mom’s rep. She quoted a Houston Chronicle article that claimed that the costs incurred by Medical Schools — $22 million claimed by MD Anderson in Houston specifically — for Campus Carry would divert money from cancer research.
It was Vice-Chair Nevarez, surprisingly, who challenged her claims and pretty much shut her down, explaining that the law as written prohibits guns from hospitals already and there shouldn’t be a need for elaborate infrastructure or training requirements. The Chair later revisited her argument, saying that those against the bill need to get over trying to hyper-inflate costs to kill a bill. It’s an old trick and we see through it.
Both HB910 and HB937 were left pending in committee. This doesn’t mean they’re dead. Chair Phillips has a habit of holding a bill for a week or so after the public hearing, before bringing it to a vote. It’s going to go to the floor, and as long as Speaker Straus lets it get to a floor vote, Open Carry has enough co-sponsors alone to pass. Campus Carry may be harder.
On the Senate side, Sen. Estes’ Open Carry bill formally passed the floor vote as amended today and was engrossed. Campus Carry vote in Senate was postponed.
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