Locked & Unloaded

The NRA, the ACLU and HPD

Keith Patton of Katy has become an unlikely hero of both the National Rifle Association and the American Civil Liberties Union, and you'd think that's not easy to do.

In Patton's case, though, it actually was easy enough to do, if not to endure. He bought a gun in February and was taking it home when he was pulled over for allegedly speeding and changing lanes without a signal.

Just to be on the safe side, he told the officer he had an unloaded gun in his car. No ammunition anywhere, just an unloaded .357 Magnum.

The result: 27 hours in jail and about $2,100 in fees and attorney's costs.

“I actually thought it was somewhat comical,” he says of the arrest. “I started laughing and I said, ‘Are you arresting me?' And he goes, ‘Yeah, you think this is funny?' And I said, ‘Well, I do, kind of. I just told you where I was coming fromÉI don't even have any ammunition in the car — what the hell are you arresting me for?'”

He was being arrested, it turns out, because Texas law on the matter is — after years and years of trying to get it right — still pretty damn murky. A bill passed in 2005 sought to make it okay to carry a gun in the car while traveling as long as it's hidden and not being used in a criminal activity.

Prosecutors around the state, however, believed the law was unclear. The policy in many areas became to arrest someone for carrying a gun in the car and let prosecutors decide whether to charge them or not.

Patton testified about his experience to the Legislature, and bloggers and The New York Times picked up on it. There's a new bill now that clearly states carrying a gun in your car is not an offense and you can't be arrested for it.

“This isn't the first time, the second time, the third time, the fifth time — I found records from the 1880s that urged the Legislature to clarify this, when there were no cars, when people were traveling on horseback and on foot,” says Alice Tripp, legislative director for the Texas State Rifle Association.

Patton eventually had the charges dropped, but HPD wouldn't let him have the gun for six weeks.

Last week he finally got it back. On April 12 he showed the Homicide Division a letter from the District Clerk saying charges had been dropped, and two and a half hours later they handed him the gun.

How he was supposed to get it home from HPD headquarters, they didn't say. Luckily he broke no traffic laws on the way.

Undercover Agent

Gary “Mad Dog” Fox is pissed. And he's going to do something about it.

Fox makes his living as a photographer, both of standard models and those who perform in gentlemen's clubs. He's tired, he says, of how those dancers are discriminated against.

If he shoots them in a club, they can't then show up in Playboy or work for such high-class local agencies as Paige Parkes.

Worse, they can't be Houston Texans cheerleaders.

“This is really some kind of job discrimination with the Texans,” he says. “And how are they checking? Isn't all that information, the licenses you have to get to be a dancer, private?”

HPD confirms the titty-dancer license info is private. Zac Emmons says the team “conducts background checks by our director of security and NFL security”; they “work with the police department,” but he doesn't know if they have a backdoor way of checking on who has a dancer's license.

Fox has a plan. He's going to find the best dancer among his “gentlemen's club” clients and send her in for the April 21 tryouts. If any background check isn't kosher, he will be all over it.

Then again, the whole plot will likely implode when she offers the judges a blow job in the VIP room.

Never Heard of Him

Rod Paige, the former head of both HISD and the U.S. Department of Education, has a new book out. Not so's you'd notice, though.

Paige has appeared on CNN to talk about The War Against Hope: How Teachers' Unions Hurt Children, Hinder Teachers, and Endanger Public Education, which is yet another rehashing of his constant refrain that teachers' unions are unalloyed evil. (Paige is, after all, the guy who called the National Education Association “a terrorist organization.” And this was after 9/11.)

Rod made his reputation in Houston, so the book should be a hot seller around here, right? Not exactly. Neither Borders nor Barnes & Noble is carrying it. Even though it's published by a company specializing in Christian books, a quick survey of Christian bookstores couldn't scare up a copy either.

We contacted the publisher, Thomas Nelson, Inc., to learn about the subtle genius behind not making any push in the local market. (Or to hear about how the local market soundly rejected any Paige book.)

Apparently sticking true to its form, the publicity department hasn't gotten back to us. It's a marketing strategy that makes sense to God, we're sure, but it leaves us mortals baffled.

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