This was a very fast-paced hearing in the Homeland Security & Public Safety committee!
We opposed bills that we believe would create an elite class of government officials allowed to carry. Those were HB 278 (open carry by DA’s) and HB 2241 (allowance for courthouse employees to carry in courthouses). We definitely support the right of these groups to carry, but believe that right should be given to all the people of Texas, not just an elite government class.
Shout-out and thanks to the gun rights activists who made the trip and attended the hearing! Many thanks also to those who watched the hearing from home and gave us comments and long-distance support.
- View the hearing video here: Part 1 and Part 2.
- Note that the hearing included many other bills besides the gun bills. The agenda with the full bill list is right here.
Testimony Presented by Rachel Malone
Knife Rights – HB 172 and HB 1509 – IN FAVOR
Knife preemption: prohibits cities from restricting knives more than state law does. HB 172 also includes electric stun guns and self defense sprays.
Local control is great, but allowing local government to restrict a right is NOT OK.
This is a needed and important bill because it protects infringement on the right to self defense. Knives, electric stun guns, and personal defense sprays are reasonable and commonly-used items for self-defense.
This is an important and urgent issue because some Texas cities already have ridiculous knife infringement laws. Example: San Antonio is listed 4th in American cities with the worst knife laws. It’s illegal to carry any locking blade, no matter the length. I’m co-host of a national podcast – the Polite Society podcast – and TX knife laws are so notoriously bad that they have been a topic of discussion with my fellow co-hosts from other states. Please don’t leave Texans hanging for another 2 years – let’s address this issue in this session.
Remember that criminals by definition don’t obey the law. So, this is not enabling criminals; it’s disabling criminals by helping would-be victims defend themselves against the lawless.
Regarding HB 172: I’m glad this bill includes necessary and important protections for electric stun guns and defense sprays. I’ve already given reasons why this issue is urgent – those reasons still apply. Here are a few examples from personal experience.
A few years ago, I was in San Antonio doing elections work. I left my knife at home since it was illegal in San Antonio. Another worker pulled out his knife to help adjust his signs. I advised him the knife was illegal, so we had to struggle together to get the job done without a knife. This demonstrates the annoyance and stupidity of the law. However, the issue goes deeper.
Many of my friends carry handguns; however, many choose not to, and I respect that choice. These friends often choose to carry knives and pepper spray for defense. One friend thwarted a dog attack with a knife – this was the same dog that had previously mauled and killed another dog, and bit another neighbor.
Many girls don’t want to (or simply can’t) carry a gun when they dress up or go jogging, but they do carry pepper spray. In fact, I would estimate that the majority of my female friends carry pepper spray on a regular basis. I don’t want any of my friends or yours unable to defend themselves due to city ordinances.
HB 278 – AGAINST
Allows an elite class (district attorneys et al) to openly carry handguns.
I support gun rights. I support the right to carry handguns. I support the right to open carry. However, I believe that is the right of the people, and shouldn’t be given only to a privileged few. Creating an elite class of government officials by granting them special rights empowers the government more.
I oppose this bill because I believe that right should be granted to the people in general, not just to an elite class.
HB 1509 – IN FAVOR
This is a common-sense bill that clarifies something that we might have just assumed was already clear. Of course a person should be able to grant permission for those on his property to carry a handgun on or about their person. Regardless of what you think about gun rights, this is actually a private property issue.
For comparison: driving a car is not a Constitutionally-affirmed right, but it’s still legal for unlicensed drivers to drive on private property.
Please clarify that private property owners control their own domain and pass HB 1509.
HB 284 – IN FAVOR
Allows CHL qualification with a .22 handgun (currently the law requires .32 or above).
HB 308 – IN FAVOR
Removes most gun-free zones for CHL holders, allowing them to carry in places where a police officer may. This testimony was prepared but not presented at this hearing.
Current law prohibits CHL holders from carrying in many places – schools, hospitals, amusement parks, sporting events, polling places, etc. – although peace officers, judges, and other groups of people ARE currently allowed to carry in these places. HB 308 would allow all CHL holders to carry in these places.
I call this the “Big Bang” bill, not just because 308 is a large caliber, but also because this bill proposes significant change. It’s worth careful consideration.
First, why would a person not want to allow handguns in these places? Why would carry be prohibited by law?
Failure to understand breeds fear. Seeing the facts and believing the truth enables us to gain freedom from fear.
My previous ignorance made me fearful of gun carry and I vehemently opposed it on the grounds that it was dangerous. The facts changed my mind.
Here are some facts to reduce fear:
- Multiple states allow guns to be carried in bars. Could you name these states off the top of your head? Have you heard of any states that suddenly started having blood-baths and shootouts in bars? I haven’t.
- Virginia passed its bill in 2010. A year later the Richmond Times-Dispatch found that crime in bars DECREASED by 5.2%.
- With just one exception, every public mass shooting in the USA since 1950 has taken place where citizens are banned from carrying guns. Despite strict gun regulations, Europe has had 3 of the worst 6 school shootings. (Source: John R. Lott, U of Maryland) I know that if I was a criminal and wanted to have the most impact and least threat, I’d go to a place where law-abiding citizens were not permitted to carry.
- Police officers: 11% error rate, 14.3 average deaths when they stop a shooting, 606 criminals killed each year, vs.
Armed citizens: 2% error rate, 2.3 average deaths when they stop a shooting, 1,527 criminals killed/year (Kleck, Point Blank: Guns and Violence in America, (1991):111-116, 148.)
- My friends and I have a motto: The safest place for your gun is on you. I am best able to have control over my gun when it is on me, not when I have to disarm myself. You are safer when I am allowed to have my gun on me, not when I have to leave it in my car, susceptible to being stolen, and not accessible by me when I may need it.
Let’s say a person understands and believes these facts, yet still wants to prohibit carry in these places. Why might that be?
Governmental regulations endanger our state. They create a false pretense of safety, causing people to look to the government for protection - and to be incensed and horrified and helpless when the government fails to protect them. For example: e coli was found in spinach and the people blamed the government for not protecting them. Another example: our nation experiences something such as Sandy Hook and immediately starts looking to the government for more regulations.
In reality, it isn’t the government’s job to protect us, but to get out of our way and allow us to protect and defend ourselves. Citizens with an entitlement mentality, expecting government protection, threaten our society. We need to encourage Texans to be virtuous and take responsibility for themselves.
If you want the best for Texas, put the most power in the hands of the people. Get rid of governmental regulations that are a vehicle for governmental control, and uphold our Constitutional and God-given rights.
In conclusion: A preponderance of evidence shows that current law does not prevent crime; HB 308 rectifies the situation. Please pass HB 308. I also encourage you to add amendments that would allow unlicensed individuals to carry in these same places.
HB 1285 – IN FAVOR
Allows personal protection officers to carry in gun-free zones
HB 2241 – AGAINST
Allows county officers/courthouse employees to carry in courthouses with permission
I agree that these employees can be in dangerous situations and need to defend their lives with firearms. However, I believe that other groups of people can be in just as much danger, and I oppose giving preferential treatment to those employed by the government. I do support carry in these places, and would support this bill if it did not limit carry to these governmental employees.
HB 1376 – AGAINST
Allows supervision officers & juvenile probation officers to bypass the CHL qualification the same way DA’s and judges do.