When the Texas Legislature meets next month they will be addressing some Right to Keep and Bear Arms issues. While the Lege will be also addressing more urgent matters of budgets and redistricting, gun owners are excited about some new bills which would extend gun owner rights for those of us in Texas.
Employer Parking Lots. This bill will prevent employers from restricting employees from storing legally carried guns and ammunition in their vehicles, while they are parked in the employee parking lots.
The premise is that we all have a right to protect ourselves, and while our employees can claim that they can provide a safe environment at our workplaces, They can not protect us on our way to and from our jobs. Workplaces which tend to have the most restrictive seem to be workplaces that have lots of shift workers. This bill is controversial with some property rights people, but every workplace has federal and state regulations to secure the safety of the workers. Unlike most workplace regulations this bill will not put any costs or burdens on the employer whatsoever. This bill has has the full support of the NRA and the Texas State Rifle Association.
Another controversial bill is the campus carry bill. While licensed concealed gun carriers are allowed to bring their hand guns on college campuses, they are not allowed to bring them into the classrooms or any of the buildings, The new bill if passed will allow any CHL holder to carry their guns anywhere on campus, Just as they are allowed to carry in just about every other public place in Texas. While the NRA have been active in supporting this bill, a lot of the energy pushing this bill has been from students themselves. , have not only lobbied heavily, but even more important educated the students lawmakers and the media, on what concealed campus carry really is all about and they been able to dispel the fears to anyone who will listen. A that is designed to present the case has been instrumental in presenting the facts to the legislators, They have spoken to the media on both the national and local level and they have earned a huge amount of respect for themselves and their cause. While campus carry was considered a wild shot just a few years ago. This bill probably has the best chance of success.
Open Carry: This is the most controversial. Of the four major gun issues facing the Texas Lege this is the only one that doesn’t have the full and unrestricted support of the TSRA. The issue is being pushed forward by OpenCarry.org, with support from Gun owners Action League. OpenCarry.org is a national organization that is large and growing, but where the SCCC tends to be educational and informative, the OCO folks tend to be more confrontational. At the head of the web site is the quote:
“There’s even an organization whose raison d’etre is promotion of open carry
. . . OpenCarry.org. These are the shock troops of the gun lobby. And, they are not going away.”
They see the open carry issue as a right expressed in the the second amendment. In Texas concealed handgun rights have progressed forward, and licensed hand gun carriers may feel a little threatened by open carry legislation. People open carrying guns in the local supermarket might cause an unwanted reaction with people banning guns from private public places. Texas enjoys protection with what is called 30.06. Which defines the signage required to ban licenced handgun carriers from private property. Changing a delicate balance is something that at least some gunowners aren’t willing to take a chance on. While many who carry concealed have no desire to carry openly.
In the last Legislative session the OCC folks alienated some of the progun reps by publically calling them out as antis. Unfortunatly they don’t have the same diplomacy as the CCC folks, and without the support of the NRA/TSRA any gun legislation is doomed to fail.
The other bills to watch out for will be those designed to protect gun ranges from local zoning ordinances. Some of the gun ranges are are being encroached by suburbia and some cities are eager to make the ranges go away to make room for the land developers and people who don’t find comfort in the sound of gunfire. We are likely to find have success with some new rules, because there isn’t much pressure to get in the way of a pro-gun legislature.
There could be some unforeseen legislation run through, and there is always the possibility that the Democrats could hold up every thing in a boycott against redisticting. In Texas anything is possible with our legislative politics.