Wow. Our experiment is off to a great start—let's see if we can finish it off sooner than expected.
Texas allows its citizens to pack heat just about anywhere, including inside bars*, shopping malls, and state administrative buildings. Sometimes this can be kind of scary. In January, an angry man carried a handgun into the office of a senator in the state's Capitol and then fired off five shots outside. So the Capitol building is installing metal detectors and X-ray machines that can detect firearms. Not that bringing a gun inside has become illegal. This is Texas, after all. If a security guard finds your Colt .45, Glock, or Smith & Wesson, he'll just hand it back to you and welcome you inside.
"This is not going to make the Capitol a gun-free zone--no way," Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson told the Austin Chronicle. Under Texas law, anybody can still carry a rifle or shotgun into the Capitol as long as it's done in an open and non-threatning way. And people who have concealed handgun permits--getting one requires only a social security number, a quick background check, and a safety class--need only flash their permits and walk on through. "The [Department of Public Safety] cannot prohibit firearms in the Capitol if they are carried lawfully," said Patterson, who is the author of the state's 15-year-old concealed handgun law. "The legislature would have to change the law to prohibit them and they're not going to do that."
So are the metal detectors and X-ray machines a complete waste of money? Probably not. They just need to be used more creatively. They could help security guards identify which honest-looking citizens don't yet have concealed handguns, and then give those folks loaner weapons for use in defense of the Capitol. Because as Patterson points out: "The more honest, responsible people with firearms, the safer Texas is."
After the jump, Patterson defends the law on video, and demonstrates his pistol's boot-holster. . .