Mimsy Were the Borogoves

Editorials: Where I rant to the wall about politics. And sometimes the wall rants back.

Texas open carry Senate hearing

Jerry Stratton, April 7, 2014

Open carry map April 2014

It looks like 44 states allow some form of open carry—and Texas isn’t one of them.

I recently read P.J. O’Rourke’s Parliament of Whores, and in it he makes the point that we rarely thank our elected officials for what is in fact an often thankless job.

I just listened to a public hearing of the Texas Senate’s Agriculture, Rural Affairs & Homeland Security Committee. The hearing began at 9 AM. I woke up about 11:30 AM and started listening at about noon after leisurely making breakfast. The hearing continued until 5:36 PM. Most of the legislators appear1 to have left by 3 or so, but the chairman, Senator Craig Estes, remained to the end.

So, Senator Craig Estes, thank you very much. You did a great job.

There were three purposes of today’s hearing, which is probably why it went so long. The third (Interim Charge 5), and why I was interested, was

Study and make recommendations on removing barriers to Second Amendment Rights, including but not limited to open carry legislation. Consider other state laws related to open carry.

Open carry, believe it or not, is illegal in Texas. Despite our reputation, we’re one of only six states that has no open carry.2

Most of the people at the hearing were in favor of joining the majority of states that allow open carry. Some of the Senators are still arguing the last war: they’re using the same arguments used against concealed carry, that it’s going to result in more arguments escalating to murder, that people are not going to be able to trust their neighbor if they think their neighbor might be carrying, and what will the children think?

All of the failed arguments against concealed carry, without regard to the fact that none of these things happen in other states that allow concealed—or open—carry.

Some of the smarter anti-carry organizations realized that they had to find some way to invoke a difference between open carry and concealed carry, and a woman, Julie, from the University of Texas at Dallas, had an innovative approach: triggers. “Triggers” have been in the news lately due to someone saying that pro-life posters “triggered” her and she couldn’t control her vandalism after being triggered.3

Julie argues against open carry because it might be a trigger: according to her, 8% to 9% of the United States has some form of violence-induced Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome. That is, almost 10% of the population might be set off just by seeing a firearm! And if it’s military PTSD, it could even cause more violence! Thus, even though concealed carry did not result in a bloodbath as was predicted by opponents, open carry still can.

If one out of eleven people were triggered just by seeing an armed police officer, or any of the DPS troopers providing security for the capitol, this wouldn’t need to be a theory. We’d be seeing the results daily, and it wouldn’t be pretty. Four out of every hundred people would be cowering and sobbing every time a law enforcement agent walked by, and another four out of every hundred would go into a killing frenzy. It would be a pitiable bloodbath. And I can’t imagine what’s going on in the forty-four states that allow open carry.

And, finally, she added, if open carry is enacted, people with PTSD might start avoiding Texas, hurting our economy. That one I can understand: it explains a lot if everyone who is stressed out by firearms is concentrated in places like Washington, DC.

And Austin.

One of the more interesting arguments in favor of open carry came from women at the hearing: they would like to be able to carry even when they’re wearing clothing that can’t fully conceal a handgun. Men will wear anything, but most women’s clothing isn’t designed to conceal bulky objects.

I didn’t want to have to limit my clothes shopping to only clothing that could carry concealed.

There was at least one police officer there arguing in favor of open carry. He said that, in his experience, openly carrying is definitely a deterrent to crime. When asked whether it might not be the badge that was the real deterrent in his case, he countered that he once tried flashing his badge without having a gun, and it was “the worst thing I ever did.”4

He added that “I would carry a gun without a badge but I will never carry a badge without a gun ever again.”

April 8: Updated names now that the video is available online.

In response to Texas 2014: News and Stuff about Texas and the Austin-Round Rock Metropolitan Area in 2014.

  1. I say “appear”, but really it’s “sounds like”. I lost video around 1 PM and had only audio afterward.

  2. This of course depends on how “open carry” is defined, however, the other states that don’t allow open carry are California, Florida, South Carolina, Illinois, and New York. And, of course, Washington DC doesn’t allow it either.

  3. You can find Julie’s testimony starting at 7:03 in the video. She identified herself as “a Ph.d candidate at the University of Texas at Dallas. Part of my research deals with the healing of the psychological trauma of war, but I should disclose that I am not an expert in psychology.”

    This is most likely Julie Gavran. She identified herself as a Ph.d. student who is not in the field of Psychology; if this is the same person, she “is a PhD candidate in the School of Arts and Humanities at the University of Texas at Dallas where she is researching the life and work of Benton MacKaye, the founder of the Appalachian Trail.”, which is in fact “not psychology”.

    She is also the social media coordinator for the anti-self defense organization Students for Gun-Free Schools as well as the regional coordinator for the Campaign to Keep Guns Off Campus. She didn’t identify herself as either of those, either.

  4. This was Colin Owen, Chief of Police for Milano. You can see his testimony at 7:46 PM.

  1. TXU bets against deregulation ->