Written by Alice Tripp Thursday, 29 April 2010 10:27
This week I had the good fortune to be invited to speak at the regular monthly meeting of the Texarkana Gun Club, an IPSC club. IPSC stands for International Practical Shooting Confederation; speed, accuracy, and souped-up model 1911's called "race guns".
I was invited by the club's president, a 4th grade teacher by the name of Helen Humber and her husband Richard. The club had never had a guest speaker at a meeting and read in the TSRA magazine that I'm glad to speak any place, any time, to perspective TSRA members.
In turn I asked if I could invite their local State Representative, A+ rated State Representative Stephen Frost, the author of HB 1301, the parking lot bill. The club said, "yes" and Rep. Frost said, "yes" and the club's webmaster added the information to their website and did a press release to the local Texarkana newspaper. The press release was picked up Monday on the front page, the meeting was on Tuesday, and instead of 20 or so club members we had 90 folks in the audience on Tuesday, April 27th at 7pm in Texarkana, Texas. A great turn-out!
And what a fine group of folks, all were pro-gun (you never know who might show up!) and all were interested in what I had to say about TSRA and what Rep. Frost had to say about his committment to his district (HD 1) and his committment to protecting and allowing the legal possession of a firearm in employees' personal, locked vehicles when parked on an employer's parking lot.
He made a committment to his constituents in Northeast Texas to get this issue taken care of next session so that Texans don't have to chose between their personal safety to and from the workplace and their job. The legal contents of a person's car should not be the business of the employer.
Texas is a big state and it's a long drive to Texarkana from Austin but I managed to catch Rep. Bryan Hughes of Mineola and Rep.-elect David Simpson of Longview. So I'm ready to go again!
Thank you, Texarkana Gun Club! Thanks for the hospitality and thanks for hosting Rep. Stephen Frost, truly one of the good guys.
Written by Alice Tripp Tuesday, 20 April 2010 15:21
When the Texas Legislature passed, what we think of as Concealed Carry Law, back in 1995 they debated the issue of carrying in the the state's Capitol building. Then-Senator Jerry Patterson did not think House members, Senate members and staff should be treated differently from other citizens of Texas. The Capitol belongs to the citizens of the State of Texas and CHLs should enter freely, well, almost freely.
No, the reason is not what you think! There is no prohibition excluding CHLs from governmental meetings, and now you're running to find your student handbook or your home-version of the Texas Penal Code (you have one, surely!). You want to correct me and you'll reference PC 46.035 but you never read far enough. You probably stop with the prohibitions and don't read the reversal. So look at PC 46.035 (i) and you'll see that churches, governmental meetings, some of those other seemingly prohibited locations are ONLY prohibited when posted with the PC 30.06 sign. You know the sign in statute that actually applies to Texas concealed handgun licensees! And by the way, it's the meeting that's prohibited, not the entire building anyway. We only gave up courthouses, but I digress.
Anyway, back in 2007, Senator John Whitmire received death threats from a death row-inmate (smuggled cell phone). As a result, metal detectors were placed in the Capitol at the two public entrances to the Senate Gallery on the third floor. AND, the metal detector station included a life-size copy of PC 30.06. NO, CHLs were allowed in the Senate Gallery but life went on as usual in the Texas House and in the rest of the building.
The detectors were operational during the 2007 legislative session and only manned when the Senate was in session. It was annoying but to say we were busy in 2007 during session is an understatement. When I was asked why the prohibition in the Senate and not in the House, my answer was usually that the House was better armed. Yes, many House members carry on the House floor. Rep. Ray Allen carried one in his boot and one in his desk.
At the beginning of the 2009 session, the metal detectors and the sign showed up at the entrance to the House Gallery. I never did hear the real reason for the addition and won't speculate.
Now THIS was a problem, although the metal detectors were only used when the House and Senate were were actually meeting and nothing extended to other parts of the building. However, it was crazy to drive across Texas packing your legally licensed handgun to visit your state representative or state senator on Smith County Day or El Paso County Day only to be prohibited from going into the House or Senate gallery with your group to "stand and be recognized". I knew of House members whose offices acted as "gun-checks".
In forty-five days we expect metal detectors to be permanently installed at all four of the major entrances to the Texas Capitol. It's been discussed for months but a nut-job with a revolver sealed the deal when he followed a staffer around, made advances and inquiries about her in Senator Dan Patrick's office, and then unloaded his revolver and his frustration on the south steps of the Capitol. Not Good! No one was hurt but still, not good!
So those in charge of the Administration Committees in the Texas House, the Texas Senate, the Texas Department of Public Safety, and the Preservation Board took a serious look with a schedule in mind.
The use of metal detectors in the Capitol is not a totally new thing. Post-911 they were present in the building. In addition, remote entrances on the northside of the building and tunnels connecting to other buildings closed to the general public. I hated that! Lobbyists are general public. Only employees with their badges could use these less congested entrances. Lobbyists and bus loads of school children were delegated to the main entrances and the metal detectors. Ah but, there were no PC 30.06 signs!
During this time, I asked a DPS officer manning the metal detectors about concealed handgun licensees. He smiled and said, "No problem, they walk up, show us their license and we let them through". Of course the metal detectors were only up for 6 months or so during session but I heard no complaints from anyone, including CHLs.
That process is what we expect this time. That's what we've been told. We also expect that CHLs will be directed to a "fast lane", the line used by Capitol employees who show their badges and are waived through. All of this and NO PC 30.06 signs in the building, including during legislative session. Maximum security with the least restrictions possible.
Personal safety is not always convenient, I still miss using those remote entrances but I'm please to be able to "carry" and walk across the Senate Gallery or go into the House Gallery. Session hours are long and parking garages are remote. I'll now have a choice to carry in the building or not.
By the way, TSRA and NRA are working together to underwrite low-cost and free CHL classes for House and Senate members and their staff. The names of some of the attendees might surprise you.