Charles L. Cotton wrote:I'm mad, frustrated, and disappointed just like everyone else. When the point-of-order was sustained on SB1581, I saw 3 years of work spiral down the political toilet. Alice and the NRA lobbyist felt the same way, perhaps even worse. I've drafted then deleted three posts and this probably isn't the best time for me to "talk" about this session. I'm mad at key people in Austin and I don't want to say something I regret and offend friends here on TexasCHLforum. I do want to make these general statements.
Everything that could possibly be done for campus-carry was done. Senator Wentworth battled harder for this legislation than most legislators do for any bill. The 2/3 rule in the Senate is and always has been a controversial subject. Many years ago we used it to block anti-gun legislation. In recent years, it has worked against us, but not often. I still don't like it.
I want to be candid about the campus-carry bills this session. While it's easy to point to two Senators and say they cost us campus-carry, that's not necessarily accurate. The truth is the opposition to campus-carry was absolutely huge and it was constant. For every pro campus-carry call, fax, or email sent, there were hundreds in opposition. And it never stopped; the calls and emails were coming to the very end. In all my years of legislative work, I've never seen the level of opposition to a gun bill, or any other bill for that matter. For those who watched the hearings in the House and Senate, the daily opposition ran just as strong.
The real irony is that some of the strongest opposition came from the very people we were trying to help -- college students and faculty. That's a hard fact to ignore when you are an elected official. I have no idea why it was so much stronger this session than last, and it certainly wasn't John Woods, though he'll likely take credit for it. He simply doesn't have the influence at the student/faculty level, much less with the deep pocket donors to universities who opposed the bills just as strongly.
Charles, from what I was able to read and observe about this session, Sen. Wentworth did more for us with this bill than most politicians do in their entire career. I obviously am not as knowledgeable about how things could be done as you, but I certainly admired his knowledge and skill as he worked around the roadblocks. That the bill got out of the senate was a minor miracle, considering the opposition.
The house was able to kill the bill and I have my personal suspects that I will do everything I can to work against in the future. But this is clearly not the fault of Sen. Wentworth.
And I also agree that there was massive opposition to the bill and it was well organized. In addition to the normal opposition of the politically appointed university heads, there was quite a bit of student opposition. It seems to me that despite the efforts of the pro groups on campus, the anti groups were better organized and able to get more students out and vocal about the bill. I put the blame for that more on the media coverage, which was very slanted. It made it seem as if the student opposition greatly outnumbered the pro, even though I think it was much more evenly split in my opinion - no more than 60-40 against. But I am used to the media being an opponent of any pro-gun bill.
It's clear there is a lot of educating that needs to be done before campus-carry passes. We have to remember that the general public simply doesn't care about this issue and the idea of "guns in school" still strikes fear in the hearts of many of those who are not as well educated on the facts of concealed carry and self-defense as are those in the active shooting community. It's not their fault, nor ours, it just the way it is. We have to change that through education.
I do have an idea on the educating the legislators. There are two doctoral criminal justice programs in the state, one of which is very interested in research. In addition, there are several sociology programs also looking for research topics. One of the problems we had this time is the scare tactics and feelings people used as arguments. I think a proper academic report could show the legislators that the pro-gun side is the way to go. It would also help counter the university administrators politically by asking for their evidence (which they don't have) and their critical thinking skills. Since we unfortunately have two years now to prepare for this debate again, can we try to get the legislature to fund some research into this - maybe even order a subcommittee to study it as part of their between session activities. If the legislature won't (or can't, knowing the current budget) can we see if TSRA or the NRA can get some grant money for this - either from their funds, other foundations, or even putting some pressure on the federal DOJ for the grant money. I think the study should focus more on regular crime on campus and how licensed carry promotes self-defense in other places. We can avoid the topic of school massacres altogether and do a reasonable study.
There is a clear problem in the House and I'll report on that later. For now, let's all just take a step back, cool off, and plan calmly for the 2012 election and the 2013 legislative session. To do otherwise is an exercise in futility and we may damage relationships so vital to success in future sessions.
To the extent some of my posts may have already offended some, I truly apologize. Even grizzled old trial lawyers can get testy now and then. As always, thanks for your support of Texas gun owners.
There is an old saying we might need to consider: Don't get made - get even. We can all calm down and look at the specifics of this situation. I agree that planning for the 2012 elections might be the critical part to planning for the 2013 session.
And don't worry about getting testy. You have been more calm on this board than many of us. You are certainly entitled to vent a little too.