Monday, January 17, 2011

Hegar Files the Bill That Isn’t There

I am a little perplexed today, on the day we celebrate the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. A man that led millions down the path to social equality. A man who was shot dead with a single shot by one armed with a Remington Gamemaster 7600 rifle crouched near the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee nearly 33 years ago.

Perplexed because we seem to be moving backwards and one evidence of that is a bill that was filed last week by my state senator, Glen Hegar. SB 321 to be exact.

Here is the meat of it:
“A public or private employer may not prohibit an employee who holds a license to carry a concealed handgun under Subchapter H, Chapter 411, Government Code, who otherwise lawfully possesses a firearm, or who lawfully possesses ammunition from transporting or storing a firearm or ammunition the employee is authorized by law to possess in a locked, privately owned motor vehicle in a parking lot, parking garage, or other parking area the employer provides for employees.”
Now why is this going backwards?

What riveted my attention to this bill was the “holds a license to carry a concealed weapon” part of it. A history lesson is needed. I see.

Texans who hold a license to carry a concealed weapon can all credit State Rep Suzanna Gratia Hupp for this. It was this woman’s single-minded effort, an effort that also got her elected to the state legislature that saw passage, in 1996 of a law that allowed Texans to carry a concealed weapon once they had passed a safety course and obtained the license.

It is her story that compels me, and perplexes me.

In 1991 a crazed gunman opened up on patrons of a Luby’s Cafeteria in Killeen, Texas, killing 24. Hupp’s parents were among the dead. Hupp was there. Her statement:
“I was looking for a weapon, any weapon, because my handgun was 100 feet away, outside in my car. I made an incredibly stupid decision to follow the law, and that cost my family's lives.”
Get it? Her weapon was in her car, exactly in the location specified by Hegar’s 2011 bill. Yet Hegar’s bill specifically targets those who already have concealed weapons licenses.

My point is, if the author of the concealed weapons license law had a gun in her car, and felt powerless to effect a change in the 24 tragedies that befell on that day how will employees who are allowed to lock guns in their cars be so dissimilarly affected? How will they, with their guns locked in their cars, in any way be more empowered than Suzanna Hupp was on that day?

Truth to tell, the only scenario that I can see happening at a workplace where employees are armed, if only at a distance, is that after a set to, a disgruntled employee comes back to the workplace after a smoking break armed to the teeth and ambushes his supervisor or any fellow employees who happen to offend them.

In other words in Hegar’s world, you need some pre-meditation in order to go and get your gun and then use it. What is lost is the immediacy of the moment which is what other lawmakers want to work on, like getting guns in the hands of college students and professors.

My other point is, then, that there has been just a whole series of retrograde motions here – backwards movement. Hegar’s reasoning fails because of Hupp’s 1991 experience. Therefore the next obvious step is to put concealed weapons in the hands of everyone willing to carry one with the nightmare of a possible future circular firing squad as one possible outcome.

My point is, is that we are going, and for some time now, have gone down the wrong path. And the more “gun freedom” laws that get filed and passed by state legislatures the less safe I feel.


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