THE BLOG
04/26/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Don't Mess With Texas... Especially Its New Gun Law

Texans and guns.

Back in 2006, Dick Cheney shot a man in Reno, err, Kingsville, in South Texas. In the face, while hunting quail in an open field. On a 53,000 acre spread.

He claimed (and experts disbelieved) to be at least 90 feet from his victim, an elderly hunting partner. No charges ensued, and it was played for laughs nationally because nobody died. Still, the guy got seriously riddled in the face, head and upper body. He was in the hospital for weeks and will carry shrapnel the rest of his life.

That near-tragedy happened in a largely unpopulated environment. Today, vast suburbs now exist that were rural two decades ago, so the following was bound to happen: Some years ago, 3,000 mainly undeveloped acres were annexed by the city of Fort Worth and placed under its urban firearms ordinance.

This didn't sit well with the gun lobby. As far as they were concerned, rules for how close a hunter, on city land, could be to a home or school shouldn't be determined by the, um, local government.

Fourth of July fireworks near homes and businesses certainly matter from a safety standpoint, but guns? What are you, a communist?

So in '05, the legislature co-opted municipalities by setting the limit on hunting in these areas: not within 150 feet of "homes or occupied buildings." That's right: just 50 yards, half a football field. Great quarterbacks are known to throw the ball farther than that, and I guarantee you their arm velocity is much less than a Remington 12 gauge over and under.

The upshot? Since the law passed four years ago, the Dallas Morning News now reports:

{E}ach year ....frantic callers have flooded North Texas 911 lines on the opening day of dove hunting season with complaints about noise and the proximity of hunters to their homes.

Police Chief Todd Renshaw of Frisco {north of Dallas}, said he knew of no related injuries, but in some cases shotgun pellets rained down on homes and businesses.

And to him that means hunters are simply too close.

"I'm a hunter. I hunt dove. But there are places in Frisco where I have hunted that I don't any more, because it's just too close to civilization."

A pending bill in the current session of the legislature increases the distance from 150 to 1,500 feet for schools, day care sites, residential subdivisions, apartment complexes, parks and outdoor recreation areas. The Texas State Rifle Association (the Lone Star wing of the NRA) has supposedly signed off on the increase, and that's a good thing.

Ah, but they're happy to be magnanimous for a big reason. The more important law they want from the Texas legislature is almost in the bag: the right to bring a gun to work!

There's already a state law -- fairly recent -- allowing concealed weapons, yet one of the exemptions lets employers choose to keep guns off their private property, whether an office, chemical plant, factory, etc. The new law will take away the bosses option, granting workers the right to keep guns and ammo stored in their vehicles, parked on-site.

The argument offered for the change by supporters, with a straight face, is that driving to work in these tough economic times is just too dangerous, and people need a pistol to get to their job alive.

It's going to pass despite opposition from the powerful business lobby.

Hey, Bob in accounting? Your days of complaining about overtime pay may be finished. And when that creepy co-worker gets the pink slip, try to be away at lunch.

POSTSCRIPT: Pro-gun forces are pushing several other pieces of legislation that have been filed this session. The most disturbing would actually repeal the existing requirement that when stopped by law enforcement, a Texas concealed handgun licensee must show their permit if they are carrying their handgun.

In other words, a person with a loaded gun in the car -- and a permit to carry it -- won't have to let the officer know they're packing heat when pulled over at, say, 2:00 AM after a night of drinking. Currently, those carrying have to show their permit so the officer at least knows the full potential of the situation he or she is dealing with.

We already know cops are armed. It seems only fair they should know if we are, and many in law enforcement think this bill is terribly misguided.

The Texas arm of the NRA, however, proudly endorses it on their website. Then again, they loved cop killer bullets, too. The "true colors" of these gun obsessives are showing.

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