Jerry Patterson, Texas Land Commissioner
Statesman Editorial Board staff,
I don’t know who wrote Sunday’s editorial but it is chock full of bad information and needs to be corrected lest the public again be misinformed by a hoplophobic journalist with a bias.
The most glaring error is the writers belief that the State Preservation Board has the authority to ban lawfully carried firearms at the capitol. They do not. While they do have the authority to place metal detectors, ONLY the Texas penal code regulates where and how firearms can be carried, and Article 1 Section 23 of the Texas Bill of Rights states that a Texan has the right to “Keep and Bear Arms in the lawful defense of himself or the state” and that “the legislature shall have power by law to regulate the wearing of arms with a view to prevent crime”. This legislative exclusivity is further backed up by statute which pre empts any government entity or agency from regulating firearms (of course this doesn’t apply to federal regulation on federal property).
When I passed the CHL law in 1995, certain prohibited locations were enumerated. These locations were fine tuned again in 1997. The capitol was specifically not included as a prohibited location in part because of the hypocrisy of passing a law and then excluding the capitol where those of us who voted for the law spend our time. There can be no other prohibited locations, other than on private property or on federal property.
The statement that “most courthouses and other government buildings around the state” are gun banned locations is also false. ALL courthouses are prohibited locations because the legislature chose to ban by statute carry at courthouses, and NO state or local government buildings are prohibited locations because the legislature chose not to make them so. It is permissible to ban firearms at a “meeting of a government entity” if “effective notice” is given. What constitutes “effective notice” is specifically spelled out in PC 46.035. What that means is a city council could ban only in the council chambers, and only while the meeting is in progress, or the Senate or House could ban in the chamber or the gallery when actually in session. You cannot ban lawful carry of a firearm at the capitol, or at city hall, or the portion of any other state or local government building (exception: school buildings, prisons etc.) that is open to public access. That doesn’t mean cities or counties haven’t placed signs banning carry, but signs do not make law, and anyone who defies such a sign can suffer no penalty. I routinely ignore these signs.
The statement “Why anyone needs to carry a concealed gun in the capitol is beyond us,” begs the question: where in the writers opinion does anyone need to carry a concealed gun? We’ve had a crazed shooter at the capitol, could that be a reason maybe? We’ve had two elected officials murdered at the capitol (albeit a very long time ago) might that be a reason? I carry at the capitol, and candidly I don’t think I need to do so. I also have a smoke detector at my house that I don’t think I’m going to need. If one carries a firearm, making decisions based on this venue or that venue as being a “need to carry” or “not need to carry” venue is actually kind of humorous. Can you imagine the thought process of “I think I’m going to be accosted in the mall parking lot tonight so I’ll pack my gun, but I don’t think I’m going to be robbed walking from capitol parking to the capitol tomorrow night so I won’t”? Carrying a gun is like fire insurance, you don’t just have a policy when you believe you’re going to have a fire.
The Violence Policy Center is just not credible, and candidly has lied on more than one occasion, so their “data” that 166 people have been killed by CHL holders is suspect. How many of those CHL holding shooters were convicted of a crime? Might that be an important bit of information? Could it be that some, if not most of the 166 dead were in the process of committing an assaultive offense against the CHL holder? Has a citizen ever been wrongfully shot and killed by a police officer? Should we take guns away from the police?
To paraphrase the writers closing statement in the editorial:
“We promise, editorial writer, we won’t think you are any less of a journalist for correcting your errors”
Texas Land Commissioner