This was submitted as written testimony in the Senate Interim Hearing on Removing Barriers to the Second Amendment, April 7, 2014. A condensed form was also presented verbally at the hearing by Rachel Malone, representing Texas Firearms Freedom. CLICK HERE to see the archived video of that testimony.

committee hearing 4-7-14

Senate Interim Hearing, April 7, 2014

Testimony from Rachel Malone, representing myself and Texas Firearms Freedom

In 2011, an Open Carry bill (HB2756) was introduced and died. This was the catalyst for my involvement in the gun rights issue, for one simple reason: I didn’t want to have to worry about buying clothes that would conceal my handgun when I went clothes shopping.

However, by the time the 2013 session rolled around, I had done a lot of thinking and a great deal of research and had arrived at three important conclusions:

  1. The issue goes much deeper than cute clothes, fashion statements, and ease of shopping.
  2. Texas lags ridiculously far behind other states in gun legislation.
  3. Licensed open carry is just a very small step towards what we really need.

The Real Issue

The operative clause of the Second Amendment states that the right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. The real issue at stake is freedom. It’s recognizing that we need to legislatively uphold this God-given, constitutionally-affirmed right.

The Texas Constitution, Article 1, Section 23, states:  Every citizen shall have the right to keep and bear arms in the lawful defense of himself or the State; but the Legislature shall have power, by law, to regulate the wearing of arms, with a view to prevent crime. A couple of decades ago, data on the correlation of firearm carry and crime rates was sparse; now, statistics show conclusively that regulation such as we have in Texas – for example, requiring concealment of handguns, forbidding carry in certain places, or even requiring a permit – does not reduce crime, therefore it is not permissible under the Texas Constitution.

Texas Doesn’t Measure Up

In the 2013 legislative session, Texas Firearms Freedom supported five bills that would have substantially improved gun laws in Texas. Those were HB700 (Open Carry for CHL holders), HB972 (campus carry by CHL holders on all campuses, but allowing private universities to opt out), HB3218 (removal of gun-free zones for CHL holders), HB928 (Come And Take It – so our state resources can’t be used to enforce federal gun laws our state law doesn’t agree with), and HB627 (Intrastate Manufacture Protection – so the commerce clause can’t be wrongfully used to regulate firearms and accessories made and sold in Texas).

Each of those five bills died a sad death. Several were strangled in the House committees, and didn’t even get introduced in the Senate. You can do better next time – and I certainly hope you do much, much better. However, even if we pass those “Big Five” gun bills, we will still find ourselves lagging behind neighboring states and living with serious infringement upon our rights.

What We Really Need

So, what does it look like for the right to keep and bear arms not to be infringed? If we are honest with ourselves, we have to admit this: it means that anyone can carry anything anywhere in any way.

In other words, if our God-given and Constitutionally-affirmed rights are legislatively upheld in Texas, you and I will have the freedom in our daily lives to choose a firearm to keep with us. We could carry it open or concealed. We wouldn’t have to make ourselves sitting ducks and defenseless victims because the law would not require us to leave it at home or in the car when we went certain places. (As a side note, TFF does support maintaining private property rights that allow any private property owner to prohibit carry on his property.) And, there would be no permit required.

Let’s talk about permits. A permit bespeaks something for which the government is granting permission; a right such as the right to keep and bear arms is not something that needs permission granted. Also, a fee paid for a permit is a tax. When we have to pay a tax to exercise a right, that right has been wrongly reduced to a privilege – something that the government has taken upon itself to be able to grant or deny. The government does not have authority to regulate a right through a permit system.  So, the government has no business requiring a CHL for citizens who wish to carry handguns.

This type of gun carry is called Constitutional Carry, because it recognizes the Constitution as our gun carry permit – no other permit is necessary. It’s referred to as Vermont-style carry, but other states have also adopted it, including Arizona, Alaska, Wyoming, and even Arkansas. Additionally, many more states allow open carry of handguns without a permit.

Summary

We’ve now addressed each of my three conclusions regarding firearms freedom in Texas:

  1. The issue goes much deeper than cute clothes, fashion statements, and ease of shopping.
  2. Texas lags ridiculously far behind other states in gun legislation.
  3. Licensed open carry is just a very small step towards what we really need.

In summary: The “big five” bills promoted by Texas Firearms Freedom in the 83rd regular session should be your absolute minimum requirement as you seek to move toward firearms freedom in our state. Please understand that true firearms freedom comes only through Constitutional Carry. I ask that you remove barriers to the bearing of arms and help Texas become a Constitutional Carry state.

Rachel Malone-Amy Hedtke

preparing to testify to the Senate committee in favor of removing barriers to the 2nd Amendment

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