Wednesday, September 4, 2013


Bob S. from over Dallas way lists the changes to Texas gun laws that came out of the most recent legislative session.  Of particular note was SB299 getting the Governor's autograph; this makes explicit that there must be an obvious element of intent to having your pistolen be seen by another.  The whole "print" thing was not part of the law as it was, but an inadvertent display got you the same response as waving your gat around in the Brookshires parking lot would.  Now, not so much, which is an important step toward getting more widespread approval of (or at least comfort with) the idea of open carry.

SB864 "Reduces the number of hours needed for a new concealed handgun license to 4 to 6 hours.", and HB48 "... does away with the class room and demonstration of proficiency requirement to renew a Concealed Handgun License."  The class time for a new license is cut in half and renewal is now just an online written test via the DPS website.  And the lack of any Class "A" misdemeanors or any felonies, of course.  :)  Bob made the point about a lot of instructors not liking these changes, which caused me to comment:
There’s a common perception that class length correlates to class price. Also, a shorter class time requires the instructor actually have some skill at presenting the information in the time available, something that hasn’t been as much of a factor up to now.
It’s still a legislatively mandated sellers market, so I’m sure even the worst of the whiners will adapt easily enough. Your point about student responsibility is true enough, but the same could be just as truthfully said about high school too.
Mad props to Bob S. for rounding up all this data, but the citizens of Texas are all over the place when it comes to guns (despite the seeming overwhelming belief to the contrary outside the state) and I tried to make the point that making political change is necessarily a gradual process if you want to avoid turmoil:
I’ve gradually come to the opinion that CHL is basically just a form of political liability insurance.

People have been trained (mostly via entertainment media – who get it wrong even worse than the news media does) to be afraid of another person wearing a gun openly. CHL avoids the in your face nature of open carry and establishes some (however minimal) standard citizens must demonstrate before going around strapped. This gets the pols off the hook electorally and allows the rest of the populace to not be disturbed by the obvious presence of more-capable-than-they people around them.
At some point the default position of fear will modify and open carry will become much more legislatively possible, but politics is always a process (and nothing is ever final as long as the legislature can come back into session :) ). I’m sure Texas will eventually arrive at open carry, but the need for political liability insurance will make that a more gradual process than any of us will likely be all that pleased about. It’s just how we make change happen without breaking things.
Getting people to adopt the belief that they are going to have to pass judgement on the person instead of whatever tool they may be wearing is going to require a pretty extensive period of adjustment.  Working out how to do that in a mutually acceptable fashion won't speed things up either.  But that's basically what will be required for open carry to become "normal", that we all ignore what the person has on and concentrate on the person's actions instead.  Once that is achieved, people actually complete the adjustment pretty quickly if events in Arizona in recent years are any measure.

Gradual modification of common beliefs through the political process necessarily will require acceptance by all of us of the lethargic nature of the legislative process itself.  Frustrating, but there it is.


Bob S. said...

Getting people to adopt the belief that they are going to have to pass judgement on the person instead of whatever tool they may be wearing is going to require a pretty extensive period of adjustment

That is a great way of saying it. Unfortunately there is such an element of political correctness in our society we can't admit the truth -- we already do that.

We already look at the person; is she a well dressed business lady or a bimbo strolling the street in search of a customer.

We look at the person; is he coming from a basketball game or just another wannabe thug?

We do this things but we can't really admit them out loud; that isn't polite. We use dress and location as a starting point, looking to behavior afterwards all too often.

What people do, and much of this is media/liberal driven - is as you say, automatically equate firearms with fear.

Will Brown said...

What people do, and much of this is media/liberal driven - is as you say, automatically equate firearms with fear.

I honestly believe that for most people the association of guns with fear is due to the decades of film/TV using guns as a dramatic device to accentuate the hyper emotional states of story characters, more often than not with guns being the tools those characters resort to in pursuing their "evil ends". You can't discount the malicious efforts of those who actually have an evil end that widespread gun ownership interferes with, but a look at the history of gun restriction efforts in the US makes plain that these restrictions have always required some degree of falsehood to get them put in place. When people actually stop and think about it, they recognize the general lack of evil ends and that you having a gun may seem slightly silly but not particularly dangerous.

And all of us vote (potentially), so our legislators have to find a way to represent all of us.

After decades of effort spent creating the legal and social condition that gun = bad/scary, it falls to we who want to change that to do so in a way that doesn't make things worse. Gradual, modest, often indirect steps is the way to work the political process to ease people into altering their unthinking assumptions about guns and the people who carry them.