On April 7, 2014, The Texas State Senate Committee on Agriculture, Rural Affairs, and Homeland Security held a meeting to hear testimony on three interim charges. The first, charge 3, was immigration, border security, and the legality of so-called “sanctuary cities”, such as Houston, in Texas. The second issue, charge 4, was crime reporting and statistical support to law enforcement. Interim Charge 5 concerns the open carrying of rifles and pistols. Various sub-topics include policies regarding those legally carrying, openly, rifles. Other sub-topics include potential constitutional carry laws, constitutional open-carry of pistols, and licensed open-carry of pistols.
Open Carry Texas’s founder CJ Grisham was called as “invited testimony”, as was Mothers Demand Action’s Hilary Rand.
Hilary Rand opened the testimony with what was supposed to be data and evidence opposing open-carry laws, or lifting unconstitutional restrictions to open-carry. Much of her testimony surrounded the fallacy that gun dealers don’t conduct background checks at gun shows, and that most guns are bought at gun shows without background checks conducted. By law, a licensed firearms dealer must perform a background check even at gun shows. They risk losing their license and livelihood if they fail to do so. Ms. Rand also failed to review the US Constitution’s Article VI which makes that document the supreme law of the land. The Tenth Amendment guarantees state and local governments or individuals jurisdiction over any responsibilities or authorities not specifically enumerated in the US Constitution. The Second Amendment reserves the responsibility and authority governing firearms to the US Constitution and individuals citizens by making it illegal to infringe upon the rights to own and carry arms (be they guns, knives, or spitballs). Here is what she presented:
CJ Grisham followed with his testimony, as reported by Brenner Brief News. In his testimony, Grisham cited crime statistics from Arizona comparing violent crimes and thefts from before that state’s enactment of constitutional carry. Arizona eliminated licensing requirements for the concealed carry of firearms in 2010. Prior to 2010, Arizona allowed for open carry without a license or permit. Since, crime has dropped dramatically, with even vehicle theft falling 22.9 percent.
In public testimony, many compelling bits of testimony strongly supported constitutional carry, open or concealed, in Texas. Among those was one young lady near the end of the hearing. She was an avid and determined anti-gun advocate until a few years ago when she researched the actual data to support her claims. The evidence was compelling enough for her to change sides. A police chief from one town testified, stating that he supports open carry as a deterrent to crime. In his town, it may take up to 13 minutes for an officer to respond. He claimed most incidents that would require an armed response for self-defense are over in 30 seconds.
One 28 year old testified against open carry because, as a small business owner, she doesn’t want guns in her place of business. Senator Craig Estes presented a simple solution. He told her to get the sign already required by Texas law and post it at eye level outside of her place of business.
According to CJ Grisham, this was MDA’s response to losing the debate:
MDA conducted similar actions against OCT over the past several months. MDA will send members to announced OCT open-carry walks and rallies. They will call police and claim OCT members are irresponsibly waving their rifles in a manner to cause alarm. The tactics are obvious attempts to restrict OCT’s first amendment rights to gather and peacefully demonstrate. Hilary Rand described one such incident in her testimony. OCT held a counter-demonstration the morning of the “breakfast” she mentioned. OCT held a legal open carry walk that threatened nobody and was in accordance with Texas state laws. The MDA members called police, who responded. No OCT members were detained in this incident. Rand failed to mention that CJ Grisham offered to pay for their meal and provide them with gift certificates as an offer of good will.
Recently, MDA’s Shannon Watts made claims only a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) or higher can diagnose. An LPC requires a masters degree in psychology plus two practicums (advanced internships) in order to be eligible to take the National Counselors Examination. They must carry malpractice insurance that is approved by the APA or ACA. When asked about her credentials, Watts could not produce any. Yet she felt she was qualified to diagnose Ivan Lopez with PTSD. Then she made several incorrect statements about PTSD. Anyone who has done even cursory research on the subject and read Dr. Jonathan Shay’s cornerstone research (or just his book, “Odysseus in America“), can easily point out where she conveys incorrect stereotyped perceptions instead of facts or reality. Her characterization of PTSD is also a bit contrary to the DSM-V, used by licensed mental health professionals to diagnose patients. Ms. Watts’s statements were clear attempts to vilify combat veterans, not to present any logical or reasonable argument for further unconstitutional infringements of the Second Amendment.
MDA and “gun-sense” advocates are not doing themselves any favors by resorting to these Alinsky tactics, suppressing free speech, and failing to conduct research. MDA needs to gain some logic and common sense before they attempt another emotive and emotion-based push for “gun-sense”.