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."

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.

Got something to say? The Chronicle welcomes opinion pieces on any topic from the community. Submit yours now at

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Legislature
Court Rules Texas School Finance Unconstitutional
Court Rules Texas School Finance Unconstitutional
Dietz says current system fails students, must be rebuilt

Richard Whittaker, Aug. 28, 2014

Dietz Stays on School Finance Suit
Dietz Stays on School Finance Suit
Hail Mary play by AG Abbott fails to force judicial recusal

Richard Whittaker, June 24, 2014

More Governor's Office
Gilbert's Sauce/Goose/Gander Moment
Gilbert's Sauce/Goose/Gander Moment
Parsing Hank Gilbert's switch from gov to ag commissioner race

Richard Whittaker, Dec. 6, 2009

See You Friday, Bill
See You Friday, Bill
Houston mayor to make announcement on switching primaries Friday

Richard Whittaker, Dec. 2, 2009

More by Richard Whittaker
Down the Rabbit Hole With <i>Something in the Dirt</i>
Down the Rabbit Hole With Something in the Dirt
Aaron Moorhead and Justin Benson explain their favorite conspiracies

Nov. 23, 2022

Wanted: Artists for Installation Part of Sexual Assault Survivors' Settlement
Wanted: Artists for Installation Part of Sexual Assault Survivors' Settlement
In addition to reforms, the agreement calls for the creation of a memorial space

Nov. 25, 2022


Legislature, Governor's Office, Public Safety, Police, Crime, SB 378, concealed handgun, Texas Department of Public Safety

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Behind the scenes at The Austin Chronicle

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle