By: CJ Grisham, President, Open Carry Texas
I want to urge caution and issue some advice to those willing to listen and understand the fight for constitutional carry. The bottom line is that we want the abolition of all gun laws that are unconstitutional (which is nearly all of them). My intent with writing the previous comparison post was not to attack any bill, but simply to provide a comparison for those who were asking what the difference was between the two and then give my opinion about which one I think is better. In the end, they both further our interests. Now, a reality check:
Anyone that whines and complains because the two bills filed are not “real constitutional carry” have absolutely zero understanding of the legislative process and political climate. There are 181 people in the Texas legislature. Of those, 66 are democrats who we’ll get absolutely zero support from. Of the remaining 115 republicans, there are probably a dozen or more that are really democrats in liberal areas, but can’t win on the democrat ticket due to straight ticket voting so they run as republicans. Then, you have the squishy republicans who are big government republicans and not liberty republicans. The number of legislators that are pure constitutionalists in the Texas legislature is probably only in the 20s or 30s at best. Those are the people that support limited government, states’ rights, nullify all federal gun control laws within the state, abolish all gun free zones and limitations to carry, protection from illegal search and seizure, etc.
With all that said, think really hard about the likelihood of a pure constitutional carry bill getting passed. Both Stickland and White understand that, which is why neither bill can necessarily be considered “constitutional carry.” So, let’s just call them both what they are – “unlicensed carry” bills.
The fact is that whether we like it or not, the kinds of laws that get passed or repealed are entirely dependent on the people we send to Austin. You and I can’t go into a committee and say, “here’s my constitutional carry bill. Let’s have a hearing.” It doesn’t work that way. Richard Briscoe and I (and Terry Holcomb Sr. of Texas Carry) have been beating the hallways looking for support for unlicensed carry. If you think this is a walk in the park try it. Hell, just try talking to your own legislator and see how hard it is to get a commitment from them. The FACT is that both unlicensed carry bills are going to be an uphill battle. Our politicians do NOT want to give up their control and tax money. It isn’t that they support the idea of unlicensed, but they also support milking tax payers for all they can. Unfortunately, the latter usually carrying more weight.
So, knowing that they already don’t want to give up control even considering the bills filed, what good does it do to whine, moan, and complain that they aren’t truly “constitutional” carry bills? If we walk out of this capitol in June with unlicensed carry, IT WILL BE HUGE – no matter which bill made it happen. I’m going to push HB 375, but I’m not going to attack HB 1911. I personally have my reservations about both because I’m a constitutionalist, but I also have a rational understanding of the political landscape and what is actually possible.
I’m not saying we give up fighting at all. That’s why we are working on amendments to whichever bill gets a hearing (hopefully both). And if each bill gets a hearing, I’m going to testify in favor of both of them. I won’t say that x bill is better than y bill; I’m simply going to say that x bill is great at the x bill hearing and y bill is great at the y bill hearing. Attacking the “other” bill only give politicians and opponents a reason to oppose both. I’ve made clear which one I prefer, but both are MUCH better than what we have now.
There is LOT to fix in regards to Texas gun laws. We have had over 140 years of infringements that must be undone. Open Carry Texas and the grassroots movement has only been around for a little less than 4 years. Deep sea divers are always eager to ascend back to civilization, but if they do so too quickly it can be deadly. The nitrogen in the body can’t handle that drastic of a change in pressure in a short amount of time. The legislative body and the general body of the public isn’t much different – whether we like it or not.
So, as you’re contacting your representatives to support one of the two unlicensed carry bills, ignore whichever is the other one. Don’t even bring it up. Just tell them to sign on to the bill you support. There’s no need to attack one bill over the other because then those issues can be used against whichever one starts moving – if any. I’m not happy that there are “competing” bills, but it is what it is. We can chop off our nose to spite our face or we can push for more terrain. I will tell you that when 1911 gets a hearing, I’m going to go in there and enthusiastically endorse it. I’m also going to enthusiastically support 375 when it gets a hearing.
In every war, the goal is complete annihilation of the enemy – in this case, unconstitutional gun laws. However, very few wars are won the moment they begin. Terrain is won and lost, but as long as you’re always further ahead than when you started, you’re still winning. I will continue to fight the war, but I also recognize that victory may consist of many battles. As long as we are the ones moving the front line deeper into enemy territory, we have to understand that it isn’t a loss just because the enemy still exists to fight.