From your “We The People” policy statement:
Recommendation 12: Allow CHL holders to openly carry handguns.
Since 1995, Texans have been permitted to carry “concealed” handguns so long as the holder of the weapon obtained a Concealed Handgun License (CHL) from the Department of Public Safety (DPS). The statute defines “concealed handgun” as a handgun, the presence of which is not openly discernible to the ordinary observation of a reasonable person. A person is potentially eligible for a CHL under Texas Government Code Chapter 411, Subchapter H if the person:
(1) Has been a legal Texas resident for at least six months before the application;
(2) Is at least 21 years of age;
(3) Has not been convicted of a felony or certain other offenses,
(4) Is not a chemically dependent person;
(5) Is not incapable of exercising sound judgment with respect to the proper use and storage of a handgun;
(6) Is fully qualified under applicable federal and state law to purchase a handgun;
(7) Has not been finally determined to be delinquent in making a child support payment or various state and local taxes;
(8) Is not currently restricted under certain court restraining or protective orders; and,
(9) Has not made any material misrepresentation, or failed to disclose any material fact, in submitting his CHL application.
DPS establishes by rule the process of obtaining a CHL, subject to fairly detailed requirements provided in statute. Notably, DPS conducts a criminal history record check of the applicant through its computerized criminal history system. DPS may issue a license at its limited discretion, but must conduct the process in good faith. Denials of CHL’s may not be arbitrary or capricious.
Now, I will admit that giving open carry to CHL holders MIGHT, emphasis on the might, be a good first step in the right direction, but I fear that it will do more harm than good. Here’s why:
a: You will then have open carriers with no way for law enforcement to know whether they are CHL holders unless they stop and harass them for identification. This can only lead to animosity and potential confrontation between law abiding citizens and law enforcement. Constitutional Carry would relieve law enforcement of the burden of determining someone’s eligibility to carry and allow them to focus on actions and conduct rather than the object in your possession.
b: The crime deterrent factor of open carry is most effective when it is a wide-spread practice. By limiting those able to openly carry, you diminish the effectiveness of its deterrent and possibly invite attacks on open carriers for the purpose of stealing their weapon. One open carrier may be a target, whereas 20 open carriers is a strikingly visible deterrent.
c: Despite the assertion that “Denials of CHL’s may not be arbitrary or capricious”, I would argue that the requirements for a CHL are “arbitrary and capricious” themselves. Which I will elaborate more on in a moment.
d: The financial and governmental resources allocated to determining who is suitable to enjoy their right to personal safety and self-defense, could better be utilized elsewhere, perhaps border security. Infringing upon a person’s rights through bureaucracy and licensing fees is still an infringement. Those who do not meet the “arbitrary and capricious” standards are effectively legally, albeit unlawfully, denied their rights.
Now, as to the “arbitrary and capricious”, I have the same problem with CHL requirements that I have with most, if not all, gun laws. Let’s just look at the requirements here as an example.
(1) Residency. Why have a residency requirement? Does Texas state law not already apply to non-residents, visitors and even illegal aliens?
(2) 21 years old. Why 21? You can join the military and carry much more powerful weapons at age 18. Would it not make more sense to set the age at 16 or 18, so that young people have time to get trained and accustomed to their sidearm BEFORE they’re old enough to drink? You can drive at 16, rolling around in a ton of potentially deadly steel, right? Serve in the military at 18, possibly kill or be killed, maybe? Young adults usually leave home about that time, but are denied access to self-defense tools for the first few years of being out from under the protection of their parents. How does that make sense?
(3) Felony conviction. If you are CONVICTED, then you are serving time, right? Not even I would advocate for arming inmates, however once that time is served, then what? One would assume that once you have “paid your debt to society” that you are once again a free citizen with no cause for alarm if you exercise your rights. If that is NOT the case, then what rationale could possibly be used for releasing a “continued threat” back into society?
(4) Not chemically dependent. First, that is a very broad and vague requirement. Second, assuming we read it as narrowly as possible to mean addicted to illegal mind altering drugs, how do you quantify that for the purposes of determining eligibility? Prying into people private medical history, as President Obama has advocated perhaps? Do you think people will admit it on their application? The more reasonable explanation for its inclusion and vague broadness would be to justify denial for a wide range of “dependencies”, i.e. alcoholism, ADD/ADHD medication, depression medications, the disabled or chronic pain sufferers, but it “sounds” like it applies to illegal drugs, so that’s ok, right?
(5) Sound judgment. Who defines “sound judgment”? Again, it “sounds” like it applies to people with a mental deficiency that would render them incapable of learning or executing proper firearms safety and handling, but isn’t judgment a judgment call? Suppose my “judgment” regarding my financial affairs is not so “sound”, does that render me incapable of exercising “sound judgment” with regard to firearms? Apparently the VA thinks so, do you agree? Ok, it may relate when it comes to buying more guns than I can afford, but…
(6) Qualified under federal and state law. Well, since I’m arguing that ALL of those laws are “arbitrary and capricious”, it would seem self-explanatory that this one is, too.
(7) Child support. What does paying child support have to do with carrying a gun? “Pay your child support or we’ll revoke your right to self-defense.” Ok, violating a child support order may put you in contempt of court, but is that justification for the denial of basic human, constitutionally protected rights? Might as well say, “Pay your child support or someone may shoot you in the face and there’s nothing you can do about it.” Hmmm… “arbitrary and capricious?”
(8) Restraining/Protective Orders. Perhaps, rather than arming a potential victim with a piece of paper, you allow them to ARM THEMSELVES. Then you don’t have to infringe upon the rights of their “aggressor” and should that “aggressor” get aggressive, in spite of that piece of paper, the “victim” has the power to NOT BE A VICTIM. Restraining/Protective orders, like laws, are only effective against those who are inclined to obey the law anyway. Or maybe the State should issue “gun free zone” signs along with the protective orders, maybe that will work.
(9) Lie on your application. No application, no need to lie in order to exercise your natural rights.
Now why would I go out of my way to tear down the policy of a man that I whole-heartedly support? The answer is quite simple, electing someone to represent my values and beliefs is ONLY THE BEGINNING of my duty as an American. It is my duty to support my representatives on the issues where we agree, as well as taking them to task on issues on which we differ. As an American it is incumbent upon me, and those of like mind, to petition the government for a redress of our grievances when we feel they are not doing what is best for us and “the people” in general. Firearms legislation is one such issue.
Just because my candidate or my party is in power does not mean I get to coast until the next election. Eternal Vigilance, Always! When my candidate/party is in power then those who opposed them and other parties will be petitioning YOU to get their views considered and without the voices of your supporters even you must eventually give weight to the views most prominently expressed, our opponent’s views. It is my view that Constitutional Carry is the only constitutionally sound option, however those who oppose it are very vocal and attempt to sidestep the unconstitutionality of restrictive gun laws by couching it in terms of public safety and other “reasonable common sense” fluff. It is our duty as Americans to guide our representatives, but in order to do that we must be informed. That means we cannot allow ourselves to get caught up in the catch phrases and things that sound good on the surface. We must always look deeper, pay attention and stay involved.
Governor Abbott, I hope that the Republican party will hold true to the resolution to make Constitutional Carry a legislative priority and send you THAT bill to be signed. It is also my sincerest hope that you meant these words when you said them, “The gun control debate was settled… in 1791.” If that be the case, then Constitutional Carry legislation should have your full support and get your signature as quickly and with as much enthusiasm as an open carry bill like you described in your “We The People” policy. We The People have broad and varied ideas of what WE consider right and wrong, but as our representative you are bound by the Law of the Land, the Constitution.
I do not play party politics, I do not subscribe to left/right, red/blue or any other methods of division. As I see it, there are only two descriptors that apply to any legislation, regulation or policy and those are Constitutional or unconstitutional. You will have my ardent support when you are constitutionally sound and my vehement opposition when your constitutional footing is weak. It is my deepest hope to always be on the ardent supporter side for the good of Texas and this nation, but this issue of open carry, that you have made front and center, will set the stage for things to come. Show us what you’ve got Governor and God Bless Texas!
Your constituent and Proud Texan,
UPDATE: Texas Governor Signs Constitutional Carry Bill… Sort Of…
The Texas 84th Legislature opens it’s 2015 session tomorrow (1-13-2015) and Gov. Greg Abbott seems to be a man of his word. HB195 the “constitutional carry” bill presented by Representative Jonathan Strickland does appear to have Gov. Abbott’s support, but he needs YOUR support as well. Rachel Malone of Texas Firearms Freedom has actually already secured the Governors signature on a copy of the Constitutional Carry bill (HB195) and all the Governor asked for in return was YOUR support and involvement to help PUSH it through the legislature. If you are a Texas resident and registered voter, sign the petition to show your support for HB195, constitutional carry and Governor of the Great State of Texas, Gregg Abbott.
http://lonestargr.com/products/hb195 – TEXANS – Sign The Petition.
If you are not a Texas resident, but support these efforts to restore constitutional rights to citizens then those on the front lines of this battle would appreciate any financial support you are able to provide. Cold Dead Hands does not take donations or dues, but you can support our efforts simply by purchases at our online store: CDH Store. If you would like to help the non-profit groups collecting the petitions, training delegates, organizing events, etc. Visit Texas Firearms Freedom, CATI (Come And Take It) TX and Lone Star Gun Rights to show your support. These three groups are leading the grassroots effort in the constitutional carry trenches of Texas.
Jon Britton aka DoubleTap is Chief Operating Officer of CDH, Inc., a regular contributing author and regularly involved in most aspects of their social media. “Writing was never a goal or even vaguely contemplated as a career choice, it just happened, an accidental discovery of a talent and a passion.” A passion that has taken him in many directions from explorations of the zombie subculture and zombie stories to political advocacy. Joining the U.S. Air Force right out of high school, Jon had the opportunity to experience many different parts of the world and different cultures. His post military career path, both white collar and blue collar, allowed him to work alongside both CEOs and average Joes. As a founding member Cold Dead Hands his study of human nature and writing ability found a purpose. His zombie roots provided a variety of issues from prepping to human behavior under crisis to firearms that he applies to his advocacy for gun rights. A ravenous appetite for the study of history combined with his current events political junkie addiction led to him writing an e-book Gun Sense: Past, Present and Future.