Its been a few weeks since the Arizona shooting, and already the hype about increased gun control is dying down. This was expected, and even the most stringent of gun control advocates didn’t think this fight for bigger and better laws would last long.
In an interview with Colin Goddard, the assistant director of federal legislation for the Brady Campaign to End Gun Violence, and a victim of the Virginia Tech shooting, even he admitted that this probably wouldn’t last long.
Now, a Google News search of “McCarthy” now no longer fills your screen with articles about Carolyn McCarthy’s extended magazine bill, and instead pulls up only articles about the Packers’s coach. “Gun control” pulls up a few miscellaneous articles that date back about a week.
This seems to be a pattern with major gun incidents. Public opinion on gun control flared after the shootings at Columbine and Virginia Tech, but quickly cooled down.
A recent email with Jonathan McClellan, owner of the blog “The Right Side of Austin,” put it succinctly-
“With tragedies like what happened in Arizona both sides of the gun rights issue will yell and scream and cast about wild and crazy accusations against the other side. When the dust settles all the tragedy has accomplished relating to the general public’s opinions of gun rights is to set their views even more in stone.”
Gallup’s poll on gun control shows that people have gotten more and more accepting of lessened gun controls over time.
The report details the following: “The downward trend in support for stricter gun control stalled briefly in 1999 after the Columbine High School massacre; however, the slight increase in support for stricter gun laws seen at that time (to 66%) proved temporary. The general downward trend in support for stricter gun laws has continued even though several high-profile civilian gun crimes, including the 2002 Washington, D.C.,-area sniper attacks, a 2005 shooting at an Indian reservation in Minnesota, a 2007 shooting at a Nebraska shopping mall, the Virginia Tech massacre in 2007, and shooting rampages in 2009 in Alabama and at a Binghamton, N.Y., citizenship center, have occurred over the past decade.”
But what about Texas? The opinions vary.
McClellan thinks they are too strict. He says this about Texas’ concealed handgun license laws:
“Texas’ CHL law is out dated and needs technical improvements. For instance, if you take your CHL shooting test with a revolver you are only legally allowed to carry a revolver. If you take it with a semi automatic handgun then you can legally carry a revolver and a semi automatic handgun. That is like saying if you took your drivers license test while driving an automatic car you can only drive an automatic and not a manual.”
Others think they aren’t strict enough. Collin Goddard told me that Texas’ CHL laws honor licenses given by other states, including Virgina, which simply requires an internet test. “I know people who have these permits who have never fired a weapon in their life,” he said.
In any case, it looks like McClellan may be on the winning end of this battle. Texas is looking to loosen its gun control policies, which should be a decently easy task given the recent Republican surge in the Texas Congress and a governor who openly carries a concealed weapon himself.
Laws are currently being considered that would allow students to carry concealed weapons on university campuses (see my article about that here), and another law is being considered that would allow employee’s to carry concealed handguns in their vehicles on their employer’s property.
McClellan compares the views of Texans to the rest of the country this way:
Non-Texan- Congressman Dan Burton, a Republican from Indiana, proposed to erect a Plexiglas barrier around the spectator gallery in the House.
Texan- Former Texas Congressman Tom Delay was quoted by the Dallas Morning News as saying ‘If I had a town meeting and was still in Congress, I’d invite all the Texans who have a concealed weapons license to my town meeting and I’d advertise it. Because the person who wanted to come shoot me would have to think once again about commiting suicide walking into my town hall meeting.'”
We’ll see how these bills shake out, but they’ll probably end up making Texas’ comparatively lax gun control laws even looser.