Texans! Prepare for 2013


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TexasBill
May 24, 2011, 04:12 AM
While the game isn't over yet, it's not looking good for much-needed pro-gun legislation in the 82nd Texas Legislature. The parking lot bill still has a bit of life in it, but campus carry appears to be on life support, just waiting for someone to pull the plug.

Of course, we might get SB905, which allows state legislators and elected officials with CHLs to carry their weapons in new and exciting places. I am not sure the amendment to allow private citizens who have held their CHLs for 14 consecutive years to enjoy the same privileges made it through, but the bill is generally offensive, especially considering what we didn't get.

Mistakes were made: lots of them. But the biggest was asking for legislation that benefitted only a tiny fraction of Texans and expecting widespread support.

Texas has about 429,000 citizens who hold concealed handgun licenses. Texas has about 15 million citizens eligible to vote. Back in 2001, the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System did a nationwide survey asking: "Are any firearms now kept in or around your home? Include those kept in a garage, outdoor storage area, car, truck, or other motor vehicle." They got a total of 5,667 responses from Texas, of which 2,030, or 35.9 percent, were positive.

Now we're pretty sure that is a low number (the same result indicated that 24.5 percent of Florida homes had guns), but let's take it as a given.

Let's do some rounding: these are all approximate numbers, anyway. Call it 430,000 Texas CHLs, 15 million Texas citizens of voting age and 36 percent of Texas households with guns of some sort. 36 percent of 15 million is 5,400,000. The 430,000 CHLs represent 8 percent of that number. In other words, 92 percent of gun-owning Texans, and 97 percent of adult Texans, receive no benefit whatsoever from the legislation that has been proposed in recent legislatures. To say they have no skin in the game is an understatement.

Various groups call for rallying Texas citizens to the cause. This amounts to "please ask your legislator to vote for special benefits for me," a sure-fire crowd-pleaser.

For example, the parking lot bill would have protected CHL holders who lock their weapons in their vehicles when reporting for work when the employer does not allow firearms on the premises. House Bill 1855, which has already been enacted, allows any citizen to carry a concealed weapon in their vehicle without a permit, so why not simply include everyone? If you're legally carrying a gun in your car or truck, you can leave it locked in your vehicle while you're at work. All of a sudden all Texans who meet the requirements (no gang activities, for example) can leave their guns in their cars while they work without getting fired. Now you have a flag the troops can rally 'round!

Campus carry is a tougher sell, but it can be made a bit easier by forgetting Virginia Tech, the Texas Tower Incident, Columbine and the rest. Campus carry is about individual students, faculty and staff members being able to defend themselves from the attacks that are far more common than the massacres. This was argued in the meetings on the current bill but it apparently got lost in the noise. In the future, if somebody brings up the shootings, just tell them these incidents are not germane to the topic, which is individual self-defense against a would-be rapist or robber. Unless Texas adopts laws like Alaska, Arizona and Vermont, I don't see anyway around this being a CHL deal, but if there is some legislation that benefits everyone, like the parking lot bill, than maybe some legislation that benefits our children will have a better chance.

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GEM
May 24, 2011, 12:16 PM
Reasonable post!

I might suggest that one might try to understand that the opposition has powers behind the logic of the argument. Business opposes parking lot carry on liability grounds. The legal literature suggests that. They have more clout (money) that faxes from a small set of voters.

Going to vote against your Republican rep - for who? So what's the real threat?

Things to think about.

Also, one clear issue is needed. If parking lot fails (I hope not), then choose another - campus carry and that's it. OC can wait.

But what's the case - I'm sorry but the prevailing argument for campus carry is rampage mitigation. The argument for simply crime prevention probably doesn't carry enough weight to overcome the perceived risk of crazed, frat boy with a gun on campus.

That's my take from being in the education trade. Are these cliches - yes, but that's what's controlling the majority opinions.

Can you convince all the schools to come out in favor of campus carry? It would be very hard.

Parking lot if it fails should be tried again. It has two major objections - business liability fears (and they have clout) and the private property castle types (who are being used by the business folks).

Folks should think on this a bit, read the literature and plan.

It's clear this time, that a major weakness was being played by Governor Coyote Killing Hairdo.

TexasBill
May 25, 2011, 07:49 AM
In the legislation proposed this year, employers were indemnified against liability for events connected to weapons being stored in vehicles. So liability isn't really an excuse. Furthermore, Texas law already defines a difference between "premises" and "parking" so the castle folks are taken care of, as well. All the proposed law would do is allow employees to lock their weapons in their car upon arrival at work and to retrieve them when leaving work. That's it.

If the parking lot bill fails this time, we need to try to raise awareness of it before the next session. As paragrouper pointed out in another thread, the current bill would have included citizens carrying under HB1855, so it was not restricted to CHL holders. This, then is something that needs to be shared outside our circle. The other 92 percent need to be aware that their rights will be expanded if this legislation can be passed.

I am not suggesting that anyone vote against a candidate who would otherwise be their choice. RKBA isn't the only issue on the table. I won't vote for Dan Patrick again, but I crossed party lines to vote for him last time, so that isn't such a big deal.

Campus carry is going to be a matter of selling the people on the idea and overcoming some of the sillier objections. I realize frat houses are on campus at some schools, but they were off campus at the University of Texas at Austin (at least they were when I was there many years ago). This means the rules prohibiting a permit holder from carrying on school grounds don't apply. I haven't heard of any shootouts at toga parties in recent years, have you? Besides, a CHL holder would already have kissed their license goodbye even before a shot was fired.

One of our problems is that we spend too much time fighting straw men. All the "what ifs" the opposition uses to inflame the issue. The fear-mongers say, "If we allow campus carry, there will be shootouts on Fraternity Row every Saturday night" Personally, my response would probably be, "Yeah, and just like Martians landing in the middle of Main Street, it hasn't happened yet." A very comprehensive list of better responses can be found here (http://www.concealedcampus.org/common_arguments.php), courtesy of the Students for Concealed Carry on Campus.

On one hand, I agree with you on open carry: it can wait, especially if it's only another expansion for CHL holders. That's just something else that excludes (and therefore probably won't get any support from) the overwhelming majority of Texans who don't have a CHL. However, I am wondering if a bold stroke might not be what we need. On Charles Cotton's TexasCHL forum, they talk about the need for "baby steps." Well, as far as I can tell, in the 82nd Texas Legislature, "Baby faw down, go 'Boom!'" And unless we change our strategy and tactics, baby will continue to stumble.

We need to do more: we have to do is take our case to the people of Texas. We need expert commentators for the media, a speakers bureau and other resources to present our view and we then need to let the media and groups know about them. There may even be a need to (gasp!) spend money on promotion. A 501(c)(3) organization can qualify for public-service announcement and the IRS does allow such organizations to: "involve themselves in issues of public policy without the activity being considered as lobbying. For example, organizations may conduct educational meetings, prepare and distribute educational materials, or otherwise consider public policy issues in an educational manner without jeopardizing their tax-exempt status." What is not permitted is what we generally do now: urge the public to contact members of a legislative body for the purpose of proposing, supporting, or opposing legislation, or advocate the adoption or rejection of legislation.

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