The Texas Senate has approved “Open Carry” in Texas, while a bill allowing college students to carry their weapons is likely to get a vote later today.
If feels like the inmates are running the asylum. Texas has taken a huge step backwards in time. Some have said we’re going back to the laws of the Old West. If only that were true. Because the truly insane part of both these bills is:
— The Old West had stricter gun laws than Texas will now have, and
— Texas already proved college students don’t need to carry.
Let’s Just Go Back to the Old West
The advocates of Open Carry –who seem mostly like suburban White men who feel carrying a gun in Chipotle somehow proves their manhood– believe they are going back to some “pure” time in the Old West. If only that were so. Because the truth is: The Old West didn’t allow Open Carry!!
Adam Winkler, professor of law at UCLA, has researched this extensively. In a Huffington Post piece from several years ago, he writes:
“Frontier towns — places like Tombstone, Deadwood, and Dodge — actually had the most restrictive gun control laws in the nation…
When you entered a frontier town, you were legally required to leave your guns at the stables on the outskirts of town or drop them off with the sheriff, who would give you a token in exchange. You checked your guns then like you’d check your overcoat today at a Boston restaurant in winter. Visitors were welcome, but their guns were not…
While people were allowed to have guns at home for self-protection, frontier towns usually barred anyone but law enforcement from carrying guns in public”
A law that read, in part:
“any person or persons found carrying concealed weapons in the city of Dodge or violating the laws of the State shall be dealt with according to law.”
The Wild West had stricter gun control than we have today!!
It’s enough to make your head explode.
And if your head hasn’t yet exploded, consider the issue of allowing students to carry weapons on college campuses. Presumably, it’s to help Texas avoid a situation like Virginia Tech. And, of course, everybody wants to avoid Virginia Tech.
Texas Has Already Proven: College Students Don’t Need Guns
In 2011, shortly after the shooting at Virginia Tech, a student with a gun entered the UT Campus. Immediately, the pre-planned response of law enforcement went into effect. A mass text message put the campus on lock-down. UT Police, Austin Police, and DPS Troopers all played important and synchronized roles in securing the campus: because they had planned together for just this kind of emergency.
Although the young man fired eleven shots on campus that day, planning by the University and law enforcement helped assure that no lives were lost.
In other words, Texas proved that the way to keep students safe is by the planning and cooperation of law enforcement, not Steve Dallas and Kitzi carrying handguns in their backpacks. (Too young to get this last reference? click here)
We Will Learn the Lesson of The OK Corral Once Again
As Professor Winkler points out, frontier towns adopted gun control because they knew it was the only way to attract businesses and families.
“Residents wanted limits on guns in public because they wanted to attract businesspeople and civilized folk. What prospective storeowner was going to move to Deadwood if he was likely to be robbed when he brought his daily earnings to the bank?”
Yesterday, Senator John Whitmire boldly spoke against the Open Carry bill, suggesting that eventually some nut will bring a gun into the Capitol and start shooting. He’s absolutely right: There are a lot of crazy people out there. They knew this, back in the days of the Old West. That’s why they limited people’s rights to bear arms in all places and in all times.
We have forgotten this truth, and that real history. Collectively, we’ve fallen under the sway of a pseudo-libertarian idea that no gun control is ever acceptable; an idea the the frontier Cowboys, the role model for modern Open Carry fans, would have seen as insanity.
And it is. It’s insanity, pure and simple. The inmates are running the asylum.
And make no mistake. There will be a human cost. People will die.
And when they do, the blood will be on the hands of our Texas Legislature, and those who have forgotten the true history of the Old West.