MISSION ACCOMPLISHED! (?)
After two years of hard-fought political battles, the tide in the Texas gun rights fight has finally turned in favor of open carry Friday, May 22nd, as the Senate fast-tracked and ultimately approved HB910 eliminating the outright prohibition on the open carry of modern handguns and sending Open Carry back to the House to reconcile the two bills before sending the legislation to the governor's desk. Governor Abbott has openly declared his intent to sign the legislation, making the era of prohibition only a few short months away from expiration.
Originally intended to keep newly "freed" slaves unarmed following the States' War, the prohibition on carrying pistols outside the home dates back 125 years and is deeply rooted in institutional racism. The prohibition was selectively applied in postwar Texas as a legal weapon against Blacks, Hispanics and American Indians. It wasn't until 1995, after a public outcry spurred largely by the 1991 massacre at Luby's in Killeen, that Texas finally realized the absurdity of depriving law-abiding citizens the right to self-defense. Licensed concealed carry became the law of the land after four years of heavy political debate, with Concealed Handgun Licenses finally being dispensed by the government on a "shall-issue" basis just in time for the turn of the century.
Today, provided one can afford the hefty licensing fees, meet State's laundry list of eligibility requirements, and comply with the several arbitrarily constructed, common sense-defying conditions on where and how to carry, one should have no problem being granted permission from the government to exercise this God-given Right. After the new open carry law goes into effect, one will be allowed to carry a handgun visibly, but still must meet all the same liens on liberty.
The question now is, what do we do with this information? Is it a victory? A half-victory? A defeat?
There are four distinct classes of attitudes toward this development, all of which are palpable this Memorial Day weekend. The first of these attitudes is the obvious, unified front upheld by virtually all Democrats, upon which New York mayor and anti-gun billionaire Michael Bloomberg has spent millions of Yankee dollars. This is the ultra-statist position that any expansion of gun rights whatsoever is tantamount to a terrorist attack on children, women, the government, and society in general. Bloomberg and his personal anti-gun political machines, Moms Demand Action for Gunsense In America and Everytown for Gun Safety are undoubtedly heartbroken by open carry's passage, and their copious tears reportedly make excellent gun lube.The second view is that open carry is a decisive, overwhelming victory for Texas gun rights and the Second Amendment. (Sure, we're still saddled with arbitrary amounts of government regulation, and we don't like asking permission to carry, but right now it's time to do a heavily-armed end zone dance in the produce section of Kroger)! This view is held by the majority of NRA types and Republicans who count the open carry law as a sign of the times, and a well deserved payoff after two years of false arrests, armed marches and political campaigning.
Despite the obvious shortcomings of the legislation, there is merit to this feeling of accomplishment. In light of the heavy resistance from complacent, status quo-loving Concealed Carry advocates, compounded by the virtually limitless resources pumped into the propaganda machine by open carry's anti-gun opponents, the Open Carry activists fought an impossible two-front war. And they won.
The third view is that of the hardcore Libertarian, the Constitutional purist. This one despises all forms of government control and counts anything less than full Constitutional Carry as a furtherance of the system of fiat slavery in which rights are ignored and substituted for probationary, government-issued privileges. These are the types who, rightly or not, are certain to put a damper on the celebration, because the moderates secretly know they have a point.
The fourth and final attitude, which happens to be the correct one, is my view. Although it may be tempting to cynically offer "how generous of them" in response to the failure of Texas to remove the licensing requirement, we must view this situation with an eye for our present place in history in order to see it in the appropriate perspective. The fight for liberty is long and difficult, and rightly so if anything valuable is to be gained from it. We must count our victories, but temper them with the realization that the fight is never over.
Full, unregulated, unmolested Constitutional Carry is still the goal, as it always has been. But consider that it took over a century and a major massacre to even get rid of outright prohibition. Then it took a series of illegal arrests by well-meaning but ignorant cops for the general public to even become aware that it was still legal to carry a loaded rifle or shotgun openly. It then took careful analysis of the laws, experimentation by a few brave activists and further unlawful arrests for anyone to realize that the prohibition did not include pre-1899 pistols or black powder revolvers.The worst thing anyone can do now is to allow the public to go back to sleep. Open Carry is the culmination of two years of relentless fighting. Right Now, tide is turning, and the momentum is on the side of the gun rights activists. After a century of lagging behind, Texas is now in a position to set the example for the lesser States with regard to gun rights as it has in economic policy.
Open carry is neither a victory nor a defeat. It is the accomplishment of one mission, one objective, in a lifelong and centuries-old fight for Liberty. It is not a Superbowl win, but it's a first-down. Take it for what it is, and carry on.
By Anthony James Kidwell - CATITX.com