Targeting gun control laws: California vs. Texas

Armed madmen and emotional lawmakers affect self-defense laws differently in the nation's two most populous states – California and Texas. Photo: Associated Press

WASHINGTON, February 24, 2013 — Joe Biden’s shotgun home defense tips could go down in history as the most irresponsible comments in the 2013 gun control debate. The “fire blindly at scary shadows” tactic only works to craft your legal defense as to why you shot your lover through the bathroom door, or to explain why, as a law enforcement officer, you just shot an elderly woman delivering the newspaper.

Joe’s advice to his wife could very well get her killed. If she ever does manage to fire the double barrel .12 gauge shotgun “twice” at the scary noises in the woods, misses them, and they happen to be armed, poor Jill will be an easy target – especially if she is knocked unconscious by her weapon’s mighty recoil. Let’s all pray she never has to make that decision.

The common thread that runs through the gun control debate and these individual examples of firearms abuse is fear. A novice gun owner would fire upon an unidentified target if gripped with fear. The police shoot first and identify later when they are afraid for their lives and value their lives over yours. Gun control activists and lawmakers fight for increased restrictions because they are afraid they might be killed in their sleep by a burglar with an unregistered or scary-looking gun.

Put yourself in the shoes of a defenseless, innocent person hiding from a madman, a policeman, or both. To be unarmed (or even under-armed) in that situation is rightfully terrifying. American tradition has long favored the right of the citizen to protect himself, his family, and his property against all enemies foreign or domestic. Capable citizens of sound mind are “allowed” to do this better in some states than in others. 

Let’s look to trendsetting California, the state vying for the strictest gun laws in the country, to see how the gun control experiment is working. Recently, a young man from the upscale master-planned community of Ladera Ranch took Joe Biden’s home defense weapon of choice on a morning joy ride through neighboring towns. His final death wish day consisted of carjacking commuters and killing them. One of his victims was a 26-year-old plumber working on a job site in Tustin. An NRA pistol instructor observed the shooter’s blood-streaked sidewalk suicide scene from his office window and commented that the unarmed plumber sadly did not have the chance to defend his own life. “Ludicrous” is how he described this latest shooting rampage.

READ MORE: Colorado women told to blow rape whistles, urinate if attacked

California residents who want to protect themselves on the road but remain inside the law have their work cut out for them. Carrying openly is banned, and obtaining a conceal carry permit (CCW) in The Golden State is tricky. A CCW seeker’s first step is to stake out the local police department to see how often it approves applications. If it has a reputation for being miserly with CCW issuance, it is wise to apply through the County Sheriff and emphasize on the application that a dangerous job (e.g., as a plumber in Tustin) is the reason increased security is needed.

The simple desire to protect oneself and family is not considered “good cause” to get a CCW in California. If the county denies the request, the last hope to legally protect oneself with a handgun is to know someone on the inside. Buy a few drinks for the County Sheriff or donate to his re-election campaign. He might be more inclined to write one of the glowing letters of reference needed in the CCW application process.

1776 miles southeast of Sacramento lies the capital of a state 104,885 square miles larger than California – Austin, Texas. The Lone Star State has also seen its share of heartache at the end of a deranged gunman’s barrel. The 1991 Luby’s Cafeteria shooting in Killeen left 23 people dead and catapulted the passage of new laws allowing residents to carry concealed handguns with a license (CHL). On December 16, 2012, San Antonio was the location of a movie theater shooting spree that ended when an alert and armed off-duty police officer shot and disabled the gunman; there were no fatalities to report. 

Far fewer people die in rampage shootings when stopped by a proactive, armed citizen. 

Texas gun laws are among the most lenient and reasonable in the nation. In 2007, Texas passed the “peaceable journey” law allowing residents to carry a concealed weapon in their car without a CHL or other permit. This was widely celebrated by Texans who believe ordinary citizens should not have to seek permission from the government to exercise a constitutional right. 

Oddly, Texas is one of only six states to ban carrying firearms openly. The process to obtain a Texas CHL consists of a training course, a written test, a shooting practical exam, and a background check. Texas is known as a “shall issue” state; if qualified, there is no need to strategize, plead, or bribe to get a permit. In this way, the CHL issuing body – the Texas Department of Public Safety – shoots straight.

READ MORE: Disarm the police, not the citizens

California’s standard response to gun violence is to ratchet up restrictions on guns. Only 0.1 percent of the state’s 38 million people may legally carry a firearm thanks to a who-you-know regulatory system based on fear. The typical Texas response to gun violence is to devise more ways for citizens to protect themselves, not fewer. 524,000 Texans currently have their CHLs compared to the 35,000 Californians who have managed to ferret out a CCW.

Surely the Los Angeles Times’ delivery ladies never imagined when they began their morning route that they would be front page news from a hospital room in the paper’s next edition. Perhaps they will apply for a CCW when they heal from their injuries. They’ll need better luck, as the law in California doesn’t seem to be quite on their side. Maybe they should seek a brighter future and get a paper route in Texas where the Second Amendment is still in print. 

Opening fire blindly is very, very bad. Targeted killing is even worse. A state rendering its residents helpless to stop a rampage is the ultimate insult. Would the LAPD or random Ladera Ranchers be so quick to shoot to kill if more Californians were armed? Of whom are lawmakers really afraid?

Emotionally-charged gun control regulations seem to be the worst “shoot first and ask questions later” culprits. Joe Biden is the poster boy for the loose cannons shredding a cherished American right. Legislating private firearm ownership is not a responsible solution. In fact, it costs people their lives. Gun control, not stalkers, burglars, madmen, or policemen, is what Americans should actually fear.


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Priscilla Jones

Priscilla Jones is a freelance business writer and political humorist based in both world capitals —Austin, Texas, and Washington, D.C. She launched her professional writing career at age 13 when she received $500 for a piece about fire prevention.  

Building on that success, Priscilla became an undercover, underage correspondent for The Idaho Statesman—”Almost Famous” style. Average-sized student loans proves she attended universities in both Southern California and the United Kingdom before seeking political asylum in Texas.

Priscilla’s published work spans many fields, including political communication, small business marketing, architecture and urban design, and golf and country club management. 

Her hobbies include target practice, riding horses, and pyromania.

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