Bring Your Gun to Work Day! (No, Please Don't)
More concealed gun licenses, fewer safety instructors, and a new bill that extends the definition of self-defense to "shoot first."
By Richard Whittaker,
10:46AM, Thu. Mar. 22, 2007
Time to invest in body armor: Tuesday the House passed, 133-13, a National Rifle Association-backed bill that massively extends where, when, and why people can shoot other people and get away with it.
Senate Bill 378 means that if you find someone breaking into your house, vehicle, or place of work (who takes their gun to work, and shouldn't customers be told if there are armed employees around?), if you think they're threatening you, you can shoot them dead. Actually, not just shoot - the bill, which is opposed by district attorneys in Harris, Anderson, and Williamson counties, contains the wonderfully nebulous "deadly force." So you could beat them to death instead. This bill, intended to cut down on home invasions and carjackings, removes the requirement for people to run away or attempt to contact law enforcement before falling back on self-defense. It also protects the killer from any criminal prosecution or civil litigation. The bill has already passed through the Senate and is heading to Gov. Rick Perry's desk.
Thirteen representatives voted against this "he was looking at me funny - so I shot him" legislation: Lon Burnam, D-Fort Worth; Garnett Coleman, D-Houston; Dawnna Dukes, D-Austin; Harold Dutton, D-Houston; Jessica Farrar, D-Houston; Ana Hernandez, D-Houston; Terri Hodge, D-Dallas; Donna Howard, D-Austin; Barbara Mallory Caraway, D-Dallas; Ruth Jones McClendon, D-San Antonio; Borris Miles, D-Houston; Paul Moreno, D-El Paso; and Senfronia Thompson, D-Houston.
It seems almost inevitable that this bill will give Texas its own Yoshihiro Hattori (the Japanese student shot in 1992 after he knocked on the wrong door in Baton Rouge, La.) and will re-enforce the traditional international image of Texas as gun-crazed. Combine it with the rising number of license applications (258,162 in 2006, up almost 10,000 from 2005) and the falling number of certified instructors (1,456 in 2006, down from 1,648 in 2005), and it would be reasonable to think that Texas should start funding more trauma centers.
For anyone convinced that concealed weapons make for better citizens, a Violence Policy Center study based on Texas Department of Public Safety stats showed that people with concealed-gun permits were 22% more likely to be arrested for firearms-related violations than the average Texan. Also, according to Texas DPS figures, in 2006, 72% of all license applicants were white males, 15% white females. Out of license applications issued, only one in 231 white applicants had their license refused; that number rose to one in 52 for black applicants.