Shots (mis)fired as Texas’ arms race explodes

A man shoots a revolver, at Dragonman's firing range and gun dealer, outside Colorado Springs, Colo., Sunday Dec. 23, 2012.
A man shoots a revolver, at Dragonman's firing range and gun dealer, outside Colorado Springs, Colo., Sunday Dec. 23, 2012.
Brennan Linsley/AP

The Senate Judiciary Committee has postponed hearings on the Assault Weapons Ban, but no one needs to worry that the threat of federal gun control is keeping Texans from fully enjoying their Second Amendment rights. But even in a state where gun control means holding the gun with two hands and where being a liberal means owning only one gun, things might be getting a little out of hand.

Let’s start our tour in Lubbock, where a sporting goods store stocks ammunition every Friday. Demand is so high that customers line up before the store opens. Last Friday, a 51-year-old man got so frustrated at people cutting in line ahead of him that he pulled his gun. No one was hurt, and police charged him with aggravated assault, but to be fair he did call “no cuts.”

Things ended badly in Hidalgo County on Monday when a 54-year-old man told deputies he’d been kidnapped in broad daylight and shot. Turns out he shot himself because he had money problems. The local sheriff might press charges, and the gunshot apparently did not solve the man’s financial difficulties.

In Corral City, where a man and a woman’s drunken evening of playing “quick draws” ended when he accidentally shot his girlfriend, who initially told police that she shot herself while cleaning her .44 Ruger Vaquero. It’s all fun and games until you accidentally shoot your girlfriend. Police charged the boyfriend with aggravated assault.

The federal gun control push has brought boom times to people who teach concealed handgun safety courses. In fact, demand is so high in Texas to take concealed handgun classes that some are worried about lax training standards. “There are just some folks who probably shouldn’t be training other people,” said Travis Bond, who teaches handgun safety in the Dallas area. “I’ve seen safety issues, I’ve seen people cutting classes short…there just needs to be a lot more supervision.”

Rep. Dan Flynn, a Republican from tiny Van, would fix this problem by lowering the number of required training hours from 10 to four. “You spend a lot of time taking breaks, you spend a lot of time hearing stories,” Flynn said. “A lot of people who try to get their license, they have to take a day off of work, or they have to take a whole Saturday to go do this where, four hours, range time, you can do the same thing and it accomplishes it.”

Training standards aren’t the only thing Texas Republicans want to lower. Rep. Jeff Leach wants Texans to be able to buy firearms tax free on Texas Independence Day for two reasons: “yee” and “haw.” Obviously, the only way to stop a drunk gun owner with a bad cover story is to offer lower training standards and a tax break to the people the drunk gun owners haven’t shot yet.

With all the crossfire, it’s easy to lose sight of the dead kids from Sandy Hook Elementary who shocked us into having this national discussion about gun safety. Many Texas schools aren’t wasting any time arming their teachers, though they hit a little roadblock in Flynn’s Van on Wednesday when they had a mishap at a district-sponsored handgun safety class. A malfunctioning handgun misfired, and a ricochet hit a school maintenance worker. He is in fair condition, and the school will continue arming employees. “We are going to go above and beyond on all-out training,” said the school superintendant, who was not shot.

Also addressing school safety is Republican James White’s bill to allow schools to offer an elective on firearms. Though the class would require students to use guns, White said, “You could go to any high school today and you’ll see them engaging in many what we would consider probably dangerous activities: Welding, auto mechanic, weight lifting, playing sports.”

Recently Public Policy Polling found that Texans favor banning assault weapons, 49%-41%, a result perhaps explained by the rise of pro-gun hysteria here. Our elected officials are wringing political advantage from the gun issue by sending out ALL CAPS emails telling Obama to “LEAVE OUR GUNS ALONE!”, but many of us just want to remain unshot.


Shots (mis)fired as Texas' arms race explodes