Thursday, March 19, 2015

TX: Open Carry Passes the Texas Senate

The Texas Senate passed an open carry bill on Tuesday, 17 March, 2015.  The bill removes restrictions on the open carry of weapons that dates back to reconstruction, when radical Republicans changed the Texas Constitution to disarm former confederates, and which Democrats kept in place to disarm freed slaves and Hispanics.   The bill passed on partisan lines, with 20 Republicans voting for it and 11 Democrats voting against it.  A minimum of 19 votes was required for the bill to make it out of the Senate.  From
The vote was 20-11, right along party lines, for a measure proposed by State Sen. Craig Estes (R-Wichita Falls).

The bill mirrors the current concealed handgun license law, except for two changes.

"We just take the word 'concealed' out in every section," he said. "Also what we are doing is adding a sign that business people can put up, if they are comfortable with concealed carry, but are a little uncomfortable with open carry."

The measure is far from the victory that Open Carry advocates had expected when the session opened. The bill does not allow the open carrying of long guns, just handguns, requires that anyone carrying weapons openly have a Concealed Handgun Permit, and allows business owners wide latitude in keeping people with openly carried handguns off the premises.
 The companion House Bill, HB 910, was considered in a public hearing on the same day, 17 March.  It is pending in committee.  Four of the nine committee members are authors or coauthors, including the committee chairman.   It has 80 authors and coauthors.  The big question is whether it will be allowed a vote on the floor by Speaker of the House Joe Strauss.  From
No bill gets passed without Joe Straus letting it through the House. I still haven't seen any evidence that that hurdle is surmountable. I certainly want Texas to get Open Carry, but let's make sure our optimism is grounded in reality.
Joe Straus has been blamed for the failure to pass open carry legislation two years ago.  It looks different this year, with thousands of open carry marches throughout the state, and activists causing a fair number of Representatives to be primaried.   A correspondent activist in Texas told me that Speaker Strauss lost a significant number of allies in the last primaries.

A favored tactic in legislative manuvers is to allow bills to die for lack of time.  They just are not voted on.  It is much harder to do when bills such as the open carry and campus carry bills have such widespread support.   The House has 150 members, 80 are already authors or coauthors, so it already has a majority of members, on record, supporting it.  There are 98 Republicans in the House, and 52 Democrats.   It may be significant the Speaker of the House, Joe Straus is not one of the authors or coauthors of the bill. 

Opponents of open carry claim that the demonstrations have been counterproductive.  It does not look that way to me.  Open carry has advanced considerably further than it did before the demonstrations started.  It is clear that opponents of open carry are willing to obfuscate, exaggerate, and lie to mis-characterize those who open carry.  A certain amount of this occurs on both sides, but because most of the old media also opposes open carry, the demonization of open carriers has been claimed to be "caused" by the open carry activism.  It is the old story of blaming the victim.  Reports from the field show overwhelming support for the open carry demonstrations as they actually occur, not as they are mis-characterized by the disarmists.  I believe the open carry bill being considered in Texas will pass. It is a very mild reform, and Joe Straus is a practical politician.

 Definition of  disarmist 

©2015 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.
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