Gun Sense and Nonsense: Firearms Bills Before Your Texas Legislature

The next debate over Texas gun laws is about to begin
The next debate over Texas gun laws is about to begin Photo by James Case/flickr
The ever vigilant Texas State Rifle Association has sent out an alert saying that "the number of gun control measures filed so far is unprecedented." These are not "sensible public safety measures" but part of a "radical agenda" being presented for the 86th regular session of the Texas Legislature, according to the pro-gun organization.

Whew. The group seems especially upset with Representative Rafael Anchia (D-Dallas) who according to the TSRA filed 11 anti-gun bills in one day. Taking a closer look at these measures seems like something we all should be doing. So here are some of the highlights.

The Defend Your Castle Doctrine
Anchia's bill would effectively repeal the bill that detractors say allows anyone who says they feel threatened in their homes to shoot the intruder. This has been debated before and always gone down to defeat. State Rep. Garnet Coleman (D-Houston) and others have argued that it singles out minority men who are sometimes perceived as threatening just because of their skin color.

Open Carry

House Bill 1163 offered by Anchia would allow cities with populations of 750,000 or more to regulate the open carry of handguns. Cities that wished to do so would hold local elections and if approved, then open carry would be banned in that city.

Carrying a gun into a bar, sporting events, a correctional facility, a hospital, a church, an amusement park, a golf course, zoo, museum.....

Whether concealed or out in the open, a gun could not be carried "on the premises where a high school, collegiate,or professional sporting event or interscholastic event is taking place, unless the license holder is a participant in the event and a handgun is used in the event." Although this begs the question: how would a handgun be used in an event?

House Bill 1164 sponsored by Anchia also says a gun couldn't be carried into any number of places where people congregate to have a good time and don't want to think about having a gun in the crowd.

Failure to report a lost or stolen firearm

Rep. Eddie Rodriguez (D-Austin) has sponsored House Bill 1207 which would make it a crime to fail to report to law enforcement a lost or stolen firearm if more than five days have gone by. The offense would be a Class C misdemeanor.

Allowing public colleges and universities to opt out of Texas' campus carry law

Two bills were offered addressing this: House Bill 1236 by Rep. Vikki Goodwin (D-Austin) and HB 1173 by Rep. Anchia. Each would cover not only the buildings on campus but the transportation vehicles owned by the institution. Campuses would no longer be forced by the state to allow guns in their classrooms and on their campuses.

The pro-gun side has several of its own bills on offer. Not surprisingly enough, all these were filed by Republican representatives.

Limiting what a school district has to say about the storage of firearms and ammunition in private motor vehicles parked on school property,

Sponsored by Rep. Cole Hefner, the provisions of R-Mount Pleasant), House Bill 1143 would even be extended to school district employees — the district could not tell them what to do with their guns as long as the people are licensed to carry them.

Repealing the prohibition on carrying in churches or other places of worship

Thank Rep. Dan Flynn (R-Van) and Sen. Donna Campvell (R-New Braunsfels) for this one. House Bill 1231 would allow licensed gun owners to strap one on in church, synagogue or mosque (although they don't include the m word, just refer to "other established place of worship). 
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Margaret Downing is the editor-in-chief who oversees the Houston Press newsroom and its online publication. She frequently writes on a wide range of subjects.
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