That Texas Open-Carry Law

The Texas Legislature passed HB 910, which amends current law to allow open-carry of handguns. All that is left is for Governor Abbott to sign it.

Someone asked the following question in what became a very strange Facebook thread: Can a business ban people who are open-carrying guns under Texas’ new law? The short answer is yes, they can.

To delve a bit more, currently § 30.06 of the Texas Penal Code (yes, I do find that hilarious) allows businesses to prohibit people with a CHL from concealed-carrying on their premises, referring to it as “trespass by holder of license to carry concealed handgun.”


Click to embiggen (via

HB 910 (PDF of the final version here) amends § 30.06 to remove the “concealed” language, because it appears that, assuming the governor signs the bill, the state will now simply be licensing people to carry handguns in public, concealed or not. Continue reading


What I’m Reading, December 18, 2014

Katniss Everdeen, Thank You For Your Service, Ben Adams, Overthinking It, December 15, 2014

The individual experience of a veteran is as diverse and varied as any other institution with millions of members – prior to serving, those who served in the military come from all walks of life and backgrounds. During service, the experience of each service member varies widely, from a desk job in Washington DC to driving a warship through the Pacific to humping a rucksack and a rifle through the Taliban-controlled mountains of Afghanistan. And after leaving the military, veterans can be seen in all facets of society, making art, starting businesses, Overthinking things, etc.

But it is far too easy to leave this individuality behind and force the modern American* combat veteran into one of two competing narratives: the Courageous Hero or the Downtrodden and Broken Victim. In the Hero story, the veteran was born waving an American flag, traveling stoically across the sea to do battle with a distant enemy and returning home unbowed and unbroken; in the Victim story, the veteran was exploited by forces beyond his control, forced into the desert, subjected to unthinkable tragedy, and is now a hollow shell, subject to either crippling depression or psychotic breaks.


As with Katniss, veteran stories of heroism and victimization aren’t necessarily wrong. To be sure, many veterans have in fact accomplished any number of heroic deeds, sacrificing themselves for their fellow soldiers and civilians caught in the crossfire. And to be sure, many veterans have in fact been victimized by combat, coming home either not at all, or with wounds both physical and mental.

But in the stories we tell ourselves, the actual living, breathing, veteran frequently becomes just a stand-in for an undifferentiated mass of Veterans.

Gun nuts’ racial duplicity: How Ferguson and Garner undermined their Second Amendment crusade, Amanda Gailey, Salon, December 15, 2014 Continue reading


What I’m Reading, October 7, 2014

My day at the gun nuts’ confab: Blunt talk, high drama and mass paranoia, Alexander Zaitchik, Salon, October 7, 2014

Earlier that morning, a speaker had flattered the [Gun Rights Policy Conference] crowd by calling them “the most sophisticated gun-rights gathering in the country.” This is probably true. It’s also telling. All of the room’s combined political experience, intelligence and savvy still does not add up to the ability to grasp how America’s largely unregulated gun trade has become a public health crisis, or why background checks and other common-sense measures poll so well. The gun-rights movement continues to see background checks through the same paranoid prism it sees everything else: the threat of door-to-door gun confiscation.

Why I will no longer speak on all-male panels, Scott Gilmore, MacLean’s, October 4, 2014 Continue reading


What I’m Reading, August 28, 2014

Georgia man shoots self in hand outside bar, bullet kills nearby woman, Robyn Pennacchia, Death and Taxes, August 18, 2014

The man will be charged with “involuntary manslaughter.” Though if you ask me, taking a gun to a bar makes it pretty voluntary. I mean, if you get drunk and you have a gun on you, you assume the risk that you may fuck up and shoot yourself in the hand or “accidentally” shoot another person. You weigh the risks and you decide which is more important to you, and if you err on the side of “I’d rather have my gun with me, I will assume that risk” then you need to take responsibility for your choices.

Scarborough: ‘Who Would Put An Uzi In The Hands Of A Nine Year Old Girl?’ Susie Madrak, Crooks & Liars, August 27, 2014

Continue reading


What I’m Reading, June 4, 2014

Insomnia Cured Here [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via FlickrThe NRA’s Frankenstein monster, Mano Singham, Freethought Blogs, June 3, 2014

The Frankenstein story is a morality tale that gets played over and over again in political life. A group (a government or political party or other organization) covertly supports and encourages extremists in order to achieve their own goals, thinking that they can control their surrogates and rein them in after they have served their purpose, only to find that the group has grown beyond its control and is determined to continue on its own path and in order to do us, turns against its own creator.


Things are so bad that the extremists are spawning even more extreme groups. The recent spat between the NRA and the group known as Open Carry Texas is a case in point. The NRA has been promoting the idea that people have the right of completely unbridled ownership of guns and to carry them anywhere at any time. The OCT took them at their word and its members went into a Chili’s fast food restaurant toting large semi-automatic weapons, freaking out the regular customers and this resulted in them being asked to not bring their guns into the store again.

This episode resulted in such bad publicity that the NRA, of all groups, has issued a sharply worded admonishment to the OCT telling them to cut it out. But OCT has turned on the NRA, accusing them of betraying the rights of gun owners.

*** Continue reading


I Know that the Vast Majority of Gun Owners Are Very Responsible

It’s just that the ones who aren’t ought to make us all very nervous.


What I’m Reading, May 9, 2014

Philipp Clüver [Public domain], via Wikimedia CommonsBarbarians in Oklahoma, Charles Pierce, Esquire, April 30, 2014 (h/t PZ Myers)

I am saying this quite deliberately. The state of Oklahoma committed an act of fucking barbarism last night. It did so under the color of law, which makes every citizen of that benighted state complicit in the act of fucking barbarism. The governor of that state, a pink balloon named Mary Fallin, is a fucking barbarian. A state legislator named Mike Christian is a fucking barbarian, for reasons we will get to in a moment. Every politician in that benighted state belongs in a fucking cage this morning.

(Emphasis in original.)

Andrew Wakefield: Attracting antivaccine cranks like moths to a flame since 1998, Orac, Respectful Insolence, May 7, 2014

Andrew Wakefield, like many antivaccinationists, doesn’t like being called an “antivaccinationist” or “antivaccine.” This becomes evident in a part of the interview where Billy D [Billy DeMoss] asks Wakefield if there are any vaccines that are effective; i.e., if there are any vacines that “work.” It’s clear that Billy D wants Wakefield to say that vaccines don’t work. He doesn’t say that—exactly. He does, however, equivocate. Instead of saying whether vaccines work or not, he does say that vaccines result in the production of antibodies against the organisms for which they are designed, after which he questions whether antibodies actually lead to immunity and pulls out the antivaccine trope of questioning how long the immunity from vaccines lasts. He even goes so far as to claim that the mumps vaccine is not needed, that it doesn’t work, and that mumps is a “trivial disease,” which it is not. (If you develop deafness from mumps, to you it’s not a trivial disease.”

Rick Santorum: Georgia Law ‘Creates An Opportunity’ For Gun Owners To Police Airports, David, Crooks and Liars, April 27, 2014 Continue reading


Just Because You Think the Second Amendment Says You Can, It Still Doesn’t Mean You Should

By Lucio Eastman (Free State Project - PorcFest 2009 - Open Carry) [CC-BY-2.0 (], via Wikimedia CommonsYou might have a Second Amendment right to carry a gun into a restaurant, but others also have the right to call the police on you. I certainly have the right to state my opinion that you are a jackass. The following happened in Fort Worth

Let’s all take a moment to pity Open Carry Texas. The armed freaks who enjoy parading around terrorizing the public because they can are once again playing up their victim status after frightening the staff of a restaurant so badly that employees locked themselves in a freezer to protect themselves.

Thursday night, the “peaceful” and “non-threatening” group barged into a Jack in the Box with their usual heavy armaments, striking fear into the staff.

On multiple occasions in the past couple of years, I have heard people explain the difference between carrying a rifle in a manner in which it cannot be easily fired, as though this somehow makes it better that someone decided to stroll down the street with his definitely-not-for-hunting rifle (and I say “he” because it seems like it’s always a “he.”)

What is never explained is why I should trust the guy standing there with an arm cannon that is not in a firing position, simply because at that precise moment he isn’t holding it in a way that it could be fired. I know it doesn’t take long to move it into such a position—it wouldn’t be very useful otherwise—and that makes it impossible to tell the difference between a “good guy with a gun” and a “bad guy.” Continue reading


You are not John McClane. Neither is anybody else.

If only other people in that theater had been armed, maybe this wouldn’t have happened…

This sentiment has made its way around since Friday. For the most part, it is a fantastical load of bull. Here’s why.

Dark theater, loud movie, intense action sequence. Add to that a deranged gunman and a room full of people who were not expecting real gunfire. I have never attempted to shoot a specific person in a crowded theater full of panicked people, and neither has almost 100% of the American public. It sounds prohibitvely impossible. Did I mention that this all occurred in the dark. In. The. Dark.

Experienced Delta Force operators would have difficulty with that sort of situation, I imagine, because once again, no one expected gunfire.

In a crowded, chaotic, dark environment, several questions present themselves. What if you shoot and miss, and hit an innocent bystander? What if you see someone with a gun, you shoot, and you then learn that the person you killed was a fellow CHL carrier, also trying to take the shooter down? What happens when the cops show up? They are, in all likelihood, not going to know that you are a heroic defender of the innocent. They are going to see an asshole with a gun, and it is highly likely that they are going to take you down. They may or may not conclude that you were not an aggressor, but by then you’ll be dead, and the cop who shot you will probably still get a medal.

It is very comforting to think that an armed citizen could have handily taken the shooter in Aurora down, and it is possible that someone with sufficient training and skill could have. The odds are very much against it, and pondering it is really just a comic-book fantasy that we use to make ourselves feel better and to tell ourselves “I would have done it differently.”

David Weigel at Slate looks at the reality of trying to shoot this guy in the context of a darkened, noisy theater filled with what might have been tear gas. He discusses past situations where a bystander did successfully stop a shooter, noting that they all occurred in open spaces and in broad daylight. In a follow-up piece, Weigel talks to Greg Block, a federally-certified firearms safety trainer with twenty-nine years of experience. Block, to put it mildly, knows more about firearms than most people talking about arming the moviegoers will ever, ever know. Block thinks that he, personally, could have gotten the drop on the shooter, but for the fact that it was dark, crowded, and full of disorienting smoke. He says he could have gotten shots off within two seconds. Among anyone reading this, or anyone that anyone reading this knows, how many people could fire multiple accurate shots from a pistol within two seconds of drawing their gun? Again, I can’t say for certain, but I suspect the answer, if not zero, is asymptotic to zero. How many people who want to carry guns in public could even have the reaction time to draw, identify the correct target, and shoot in under two seconds? Very, very few, I reckon. Unless, of course, you are a current or former Delta Force operator.

We stopped being the kind of society that spends a significant portion of its free time preparing for gun battles over a century ago. Do we really want to go back to that? Because that is the only way that arming the moviegoers would have even stood a chance of success, i.e. if everyone had gone in there mentally prepared for battle.

What Happens When Bystanders Have Guns

Two fairly recent stories cast doubt on any guarantee of a happy outcome when law-abiding citizens are armed. Continue reading