Skip to comments.Capitol plan is a far piece from firearm prohibition
Posted on 04/15/2010 3:14:39 PM PDT by lqcincinnatus
Think the metal detectors and other ramped-up security plans for the Texas Capitol will keep out unlicensed guns?
Think again, officials said Wednesday.
Under current state law, so-called "long guns" rifles, shotguns and the like will remain legal in the domed landmark if they are carried openly, in a non-threatening way.
And, under an exemption approved Tuesday as a part of a new security plan, Texans with a concealed-handgun license will be able to take their pistols into the statehouse as well.
(Excerpt) Read more at statesman.com ...
officials on both sides of the debate seem resigned to an uneasy peace between the new plan and Texas' patchwork of gun laws.
"This is not going to make the Capitol a gun-free zone, no way," said Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson, an ardent gun-rights advocate who as a state senator authored Texas' concealed-handgun law 15 years ago.
"The (Department of Public Safety) cannot prohibit firearms in the Capitol if they are carried lawfully. The Legislature would have to change the law to prohibit them \u2026 and they're not going to do that."
On the other side of the spectrum, state Sen. John Whitmire, a Houston Democrat, said metal detectors are needed, even though he acknowledges the plan is not a perfect one.
"Texas is pretty gun-friendly, so even though it may not make sense to be able to legally carry a rifle or shotgun into the Capitol, that's the way it is," said Whitmire, the state's longest-serving senator. "There's not a lot of wildlife in the Capitol that needs to be hunted, although occasionally there may be a couple of squirrels running around up there."
The comments came Wednesday as debate continued over the new security plan, which calls for restricted access to the building and screening visitors and staff with metal detectors and X-ray machines. People with state handgun permits say they fear officials will use the new security measures to block legal guns, while handgun opponents say the measures don't go far enough and that the Texas Capitol should be a gun-free zone like Capitols in most other states.
Tela Mange, the chief DPS spokeswoman, declined to comment on specifics of the new Capitol security procedures, which are supposed to take effect within 45 days. But other DPS officials acknowledged that rifles and shotguns could still be carried into the building under current law.
In approving the new plan on Tuesday, several members of the State Preservation Board made clear that they expect the security measures to be implemented without restricting concealed-handgun license holders. State Sen. Tommy Williams, R-The Woodlands, acknowledged he had met with representatives of the Texas State Rifle Association and National Rifle Association lobbying groups with considerable political clout in Texas before the vote to make sure their concerns were addressed.
That seemed little consolation to Houston resident Jose "Joe" Avila and others who were calling legislative offices and reporters on Wednesday seeking answers. Avila said he holds a concealed-handgun license and regularly comes to the Capitol during legislative sessions to lobby on labor issues.
"If I come to the Capitol in the future, do I have to show them my license or gun or what?" he asked. "A lot of us see this as a way to intimidate licensees to not carry their weapons even in a legal fashion."
Chuck Bolding, who was touring the Capitol Wednesday with his family, echoed that sentiment: "It's not going to make people safer. The way the law is, anyone could still show up carrying a long gun and get in. Legally."
Bolding noted that the January shooting episode at the Capitol that helped spark the beefed-up security occurred outside the south entrance, outside where metal detectors and X-ray machines will be installed.
Peter Hamm, communications director for the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, a national handgun-control group, said Texas is one of only a few states that allow firearms in their statehouses.
"That's a very smart rule, especially at a time when all sorts of anti-government sentiment is out there," he said. Of the new Texas plan, he said: "It's very puzzling."
Patterson, who carries a .22 Magnum pistol in his boot with a state license, said that he understands the intent of the new security screening, but sees the new measures as somewhat off-point, as well.
Governor Perry was the only member of the committee to vote against the resolution. Patterson is not on the committee.
I don’t understand the mechanics.
When you have a CHL, you are not supposed to declare to anyone - except a peace officer - that you are carrying. If you have to go through a metal detector, it’ll be set off and everyone will know you’re carrying. If you have a separate line for CHL holders, everyone will know you’re carrying.
So, anyone, how do you get into the building with a (legally carried) handgun without everyone around you knowing that you’re carrying a .45?
"That's a very smart rule...."
I LOVE it! Peter Hamm saying that it is a "very smart rule" for Texas to allow firearms in its statehouse.
You don’t have to go through a metal detector, it’s voluntary.
EXCEPT, jury duty? Have pondered this before. I enjoy thought exercises like that. Might be a way to get out of jury duty, albeit a civic duty.
Guns in the statehouse,,, if they aren;t busy screwing the people it shouldn’t be an issue.
No, when the plan is in effect in a month or so, everyone will have to go through a metal detector, including public servants. It will really slow down entry into the Capitol.
public servants self-servants
There, fixed it for you! ;-)
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