This past week, the Texas state Senate passed the Open Carry bill. According to the law, when it becomes official, citizens can legally open carry firearms into most public places. That would include (but not be limited to) churches, college campuses, and other public areas. Presumably, private businesses would retain the right to bar their customers from openly carrying firearms into their stores (or places of business) but I am no legal expert. I’ve only been half monitoring this development as it just seems to surreal to give the time of day. Simply put, we have left our collective skulls.
Let’s put aside the merits of the bill aside for the moment. For one, it has passed so there is no use in crying over spilled milk (or sanity). For another, the simple passage of this bill is not the most infuriating part of this story. The single most infuriating part of this story is that it is a story at all. Coming into this session, the legislature had a few big ticket items to work on. The courts say that education is being underfunded to the tune of 11 billion dollars. You might remember their six billion dollar cut a couple of sessions ago. Education was being underfunded according to the courts even then.
In the last session, they stepped up to the plate and gave us a cocktail of four billion dollars and reduced mandates. That kept the courts off their backs for the time being. The thought now is for the legislature to throw in another four or five billion and hope it’s enough. Otherwise, the courts will end up garnishing their wages and as Fletch famously said, “I can’t have my wages garnishing.” What a wonderful world it would be if education were the only major concern. We’re just getting warmed up.
Anyone that has driven around Houston these days knows how horrible our highways are. Many of them are in disrepair while others are in desperate need of expansion. Add in the additional problem of the lack of water we’ve experienced and you can see that they came into the legislative session to at least three major priorities. However, that is only what they themselves have officially identified as priorities. We could add to the list if we look hard enough.
First, we get to their fourth priority: cutting taxes. You have to hand it to them for consistency. You have to give education more money, dedicate more money to roads, and make sure everyone is getting plenty of water. Seems like a perfect time to cut taxes to me. The state does have a 16 billion dollar rainy day fund, but as most budget planners will tell you, you don’t want to run through your entire nest egg. Yet, you can’t help but hand it to Dan Patrick and his minions. They’re like a bad shopping cart that pulls to the right no matter which way it is facing.
Let’s forget about having the highest rate of uninsured people in the country. Let’s forget about funding mental health. After all, we usually run between 49th and 50th in that. Heck, unless those open carry people plan on running down to the border, we still have a security problem. Add that to the education, transportation, and water issues and you have a full slate. Let’s keep in mind that they meet only once every two years. Considering all of that, these guys (and gals) open with open carry. Brilliant.
I suppose you could consider it low lying fruit on some level. That by itself is sad. There are literally very few situations where more guns would help. Perhaps a long arm would help motivate the preacher to shorten that sermon or that professor to spit out that A. Maybe the barista at Starbuck’s will make the coffee faster. It seems I read somewhere once that it was the job of those who govern to help keep those they govern be more safe. We almost must balance that with liberty, but the solution must make sense. More guns means more violence. More violence means more deaths. That seems like the antithesis of what legislators should do for the people.
More to the point, we didn’t elect our representatives to defend marriage from the evils of homosexuality, allow inbred hicks to bring bazookas into church, or give citizens an extra 200 bucks so we can turn around and have no water, broken down roads, and more people uninsured. This doesn’t even mention an underfunded educational system. At best, open carry will have no impact whatsoever on public safety. So, can someone explain to me why it was so blastedly important to pass?