A Texas Senate committee will hold the first public hearings on open carry and campus carry legislation on Thursday, but thanks to the antics of attention-starved Open Carry Tarrant County (OCTC) and their leader, cop-hating anarchist Kory Watkins, a bill arguing for constitutional carry—carrying openly or concealed without a permit—won’t even be heard.
The legislative session’s first public hearings on two high-profile gun bills — open carry and campus carry — will be held Thursday before the Senate State Affairs Committee.
The hearing will not include a bill by Sen. Don Huffines, R-Dallas, on so-called constitutional carry, which would allow any legal owner of a handgun to openly carry his or her firearm without the need of a concealed handgun permit.
Proponents of constitutional carry suffered a setback last week when Kory Watkins of Open Carry Tarrant County posted a Facebook video in which he equated opposition to constitutional carry to treason, a crime that he said is punishable by death. Although Watkins later said he did not intend to threaten lawmakers, the ominous tone of his message drew sharp criticism from other open-carry advocates.
Watkins’s ill-advised video is just the latest incident from a man who claims to be a supporter of Second Amendment rights, but who has actually been the most successful proponent of gun control in the United States in the past two years.
The two bills being heard are Senate Bill 11 by Sen. Brian Birdwell, R-Granbury, which is a campus carry bill that would allow students to carry firearms in campus buildings, and Senate Bill 346, which would allow citizens with a concealed carry permit to open carry handguns in public.
SB-11 is opposed by many college and university faculty, administrators, and campus police chiefs who have it in their heads that that same people who carry firearms safely off campus will somehow become dangerous once they enter a classroom building. I’m not sure that they realize that their argument is essentially stating that entering a college classroom in Texas makes you dumb and dangerous… but there it is.
SB-346 is one of many bills proposed this session which seeks to bring Texas in line with the majority of the states where open carry is allowed. It is more restrictive than many state laws which allow anyone who is legally of age to own a handgun to open carry it, and isn’t favored by most in-state gun rights groups. Unfortunately, the high-profile intimidation efforts by Open Carry Tarrant County supporters which have led to the installation of panic buttons in the offices of legislators have sourced Democrats and Republicans alike to more liberal bills, and these more conservative bills may be all that are palatable this session thanks to the unthinking behavior of Open Carry Tarrant County.