Texas Senate’s passage of open carry is rootin’ tootin’ madness

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from The Dallas Morning News,

Call it muzzle velocity for awful ideas.

Texas lawmakers are treating their pet gun proposals with the urgency that ought to be reserved for core government emergencies.

First it was “open carry” that cleared the GOP-dominated Senate on final passage Tuesday, with campus carry waiting in the wings. Not to be outdone, House Republicans were busy priming their versions in committee.

Bewildered opponents of these bills — this newspaper included — have honestly wondered what festering problems they’re aiming to fix.

Truth is, these are politically motivated bills that give their many authors and co-authors Second Amendment bragging rights come primary election time.

This newspaper has long supported the rights of properly trained Texans to carry concealed handguns. We have yet to hear a persuasive argument for why those same Texans have a crying need to sport their holstered sidearms in open view.

Frontier Texas is a thing of the past, though it seems the GOP is pining for its return. Few of us need to sharpen our quick draw to dispatch a varmint.

The urbanization of this state has taken place with breathtaking speed. Most of us live in close proximity. Firearms openly displayed by civilians in our busy, high-stress urban environments is an unnecessary provocation.

The dean of the Senate, John Whitmire, D-Houston, thundered about the dangers that open carry would invite. He pressed the point about unhinged people who stalk the halls of the Capitol, where open sidearms would be permitted.

He said it’s not a matter of if a disturbed person would grab for someone else’s handgun, but a matter of when.

Critics of the bill cite surveys of police chiefs, most of whom oppose liberalized firearms laws. In Senate debate, the opponents questioned why bill supporters would risk adding to the volatility of a police crime scene with the possibility of multiple armed bystanders.

What’s particularly alarming is that at least one senator didn’t think the open-carry bill went far enough. Freshman Sen. Don Huffines, R-Dallas, said he was backing the measure but with a “heavy heart.” What Huffines said he truly wanted was his competing bill, which he styled as “constitutional carry.” That would have allowed open carrying of handguns without training or license.

We can thank our stars that senators showed a modicum of restraint and opted to pass, on a party-line vote, the version requiring training and a Department of Public Safety-issued permit.

Perhaps level-headed members on the House side can succeed in instilling more restraint once these firearms bills come up for debate there. It’s clear there’s some good sense in the Capitol on these matters. It’s been outvoted so far, but it’s there.

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