Parking Lot Bill and sites on the Ship Channel

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LTUME1978
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Parking Lot Bill and sites on the Ship Channel

Postby LTUME1978 » Wed Jun 08, 2011 8:51 pm

I was all excited to hear that the parking lot bill passed and was discussing that with one of the managers at our refinery. He mentioned that the new law would be invalid for us as our refinery is on the Houston Ship Channel and the Coast Guard would prohibit us from having any weapon in our vehicle in the parking lot (we must have TWIC cards at our site and that applies to any site on the Ship Channel).

Charles, please tell us that he is mistaken.

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Re: Parking Lot Bill and sites on the Ship Channel

Postby ELB » Wed Jun 08, 2011 10:37 pm

I will be interested to see what Mr. Cotton thinks, but I just took a quick stroll through the Houston Ship Channel Security District website (http://www.hscsd.org/). Some things jumped out at me:

- It was created by the Harris County commissioners, using powers set out in an act passed by the 2007 Texas State Legislature (I believe that would be the 79th).

- "Members" of the District seem to be the petrochemical companies/associations of the area, to include East Harris County Manufacturers Association plant facilities; Maritime company facilities regulated by MTSA (Maritime Transportation Security Act); Port of Houston Authority; and Harris County.

- "Partners" are listed as including the following: Harris County Judge’s Office; Harris County Precinct 2; Harris County Sheriff’s Office; TranStar partners – TxDOT, METRO and City of Houston; Houston Ship Channel Security Council; University of Houston; U.S. Coast Guard. I don't know for sure, but in my bureaucratic experience lists like this put the most influential/powerful entities first, and the least last.

- The District is governed by an 11 member board that includes eight directors elected by the Members of the District and three appointed ones. The appointed ones are the Exec Director of the Port of Houston Authority, one appointed by the Harris County commissioners, and one appointed by the Harris County Mayors and Councils Association. Sounds like all locals to me, no feds.

- DHS grants were/are used to find security infrastructure stuff like surveillance equipment, communications, and so forth, but actual security seems to be provided by " ...specially trained Harris County Sheriffs Office personnel, marked patrol cars and patrol boats to provide rapid response times and improved communication with security district facilities. Harris County is a partner in the security district through in-kind services."

Thus it seems the Houston Ship Channel Security District is created and governed by the State of Texas. There may be some pre-emptive federal law or power given to the Coasties to make some rules (via the MTSA?), but otherwise it doesn't seem to me that anything about the Houston Ship Channel Security District should interfere with the Parking Lot bill. But I don't know if the Houston Ship Channel and the HSC Security District are completely congruent... Seems like this would have come up during one of the last two or three legislatures as an issue if it did.... :confused5

But I have been wrong before...
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Re: Parking Lot Bill and sites on the Ship Channel

Postby 57Coastie » Thu Jun 09, 2011 3:33 pm

ELB wrote:I will be interested to see what Mr. Cotton thinks, but I just took a quick stroll through the Houston Ship Channel Security District website (http://www.hscsd.org/). Some things jumped out at me:

- It was created by the Harris County commissioners, using powers set out in an act passed by the 2007 Texas State Legislature (I believe that would be the 79th).

- "Members" of the District seem to be the petrochemical companies/associations of the area, to include East Harris County Manufacturers Association plant facilities; Maritime company facilities regulated by MTSA (Maritime Transportation Security Act); Port of Houston Authority; and Harris County.

- "Partners" are listed as including the following: Harris County Judge’s Office; Harris County Precinct 2; Harris County Sheriff’s Office; TranStar partners – TxDOT, METRO and City of Houston; Houston Ship Channel Security Council; University of Houston; U.S. Coast Guard. I don't know for sure, but in my bureaucratic experience lists like this put the most influential/powerful entities first, and the least last.

- The District is governed by an 11 member board that includes eight directors elected by the Members of the District and three appointed ones. The appointed ones are the Exec Director of the Port of Houston Authority, one appointed by the Harris County commissioners, and one appointed by the Harris County Mayors and Councils Association. Sounds like all locals to me, no feds.

- DHS grants were/are used to find security infrastructure stuff like surveillance equipment, communications, and so forth, but actual security seems to be provided by " ...specially trained Harris County Sheriffs Office personnel, marked patrol cars and patrol boats to provide rapid response times and improved communication with security district facilities. Harris County is a partner in the security district through in-kind services."

Thus it seems the Houston Ship Channel Security District is created and governed by the State of Texas. There may be some pre-emptive federal law or power given to the Coasties to make some rules (via the MTSA?), but otherwise it doesn't seem to me that anything about the Houston Ship Channel Security District should interfere with the Parking Lot bill. But I don't know if the Houston Ship Channel and the HSC Security District are completely congruent... Seems like this would have come up during one of the last two or three legislatures as an issue if it did.... :confused5

But I have been wrong before...

I step in here reluctantly, as it might appear that I have a dog in this hunt, which I do not. I have had my CHL since the beginning. I have been retired from the Coast Guard for almost 35 years, so I certainly cannot speak for either them or DHS, and of course I retired before 9/11, when things changed a bit. But I find that I must, as I think your well-meaning comments, ELB, might be taken too seriously by someone else to their regret.

I would suggest, ELB, that your rather basic assumption that since the CG is at the bottom of the list you have, it means it is the "least influential/powerful" agency on the list. When it comes to the security of waterfront facilities I would advise you to read your list upside down. The Congress has made the USCG, an agency in DHS, the federal agency in charge of waterfront security, and I think I can assure you that if any ot the Texas state agencies you mention, or quasi-state agencies, get crosswise with the Coast Guard on the question of waterfront security this point will be made clear.

I write this simply to hopefully prevent some reader from getting in federal trouble by reading your post as saying they might be OK bringing a firearm into a waterfront security area parking lot contrary to rules of the Coast Guard. If I were the Captain of the Port of Houston I would have to roll my eyes if someone arrested in this facility for doing so told me "but Governor Perry and the Texas legislature say I can do this."

Of course I do not know what the CG says about weapons on the waterfront in Houston, if anything. My position here is just as hypothetical as yours is.

Most Coast Guard personnel are federal law enforcement officers authorized to bear arms. All commissioned officers are. They have powers of arrest under explicit federal law, contrary to all the other armed forces. The Posse Comitatus Act does not apply to the Coast Guard.

I would seriously and strongly recommend that nobody trust the new state parking lot act on this question without checking first with the Coast Guard. If there should be any question, the Coast Guard need waste no public funds by putting up 30.06 signs. A simple "gunbuster" sign is sufficient. If push comes to shove trusting in the state act may put one in a federal lockup.

Please understand that my comments carefully avoid taking any position on the parking lot legislation, neither pro or nor con. I am only commenting on a matter of jurisdiction, federal supremacy, federal preemption, common sense and good judgment. I trust my comments here are understood as being in that context.

Jim

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Re: Parking Lot Bill and sites on the Ship Channel

Postby canvasbck » Thu Jun 09, 2011 4:12 pm

I am the FSO for a MTSA regulated facility. I can tell you that what you were told may or may not be correct. If your parking area is inside the secure area of the facility, then yes he was correct that you may not store a firearm in the vehicle. If your employee parking lot is outside of the secure area, then you may have a firearm locked inside your vehicle if you hold a CHL and you are a direct employee of the facility owner (not a contractor).

The USCG is the primary agency regulating the security of MTSA facilities (if you need a TWIC, your MTSA). They do not require Facility Security plans that address firearms outside of the secure area.

BTW, for a parking lot to be considered part of the secure area, it must pass all three prongs of the following three pronged test:
1) Must physically contain the plant (no fence or road in between the parking lot and your plant)
2) Must not be open to the public
3) Must be continuously monitored by security personnel

I have been working with a USCG commander on this issue and he has promised further guidance, but for now he agrees with my assessment of the USCG regulations vs the new law as stated here. The USCG is not interested in regulating our facility outside of the secure area and putting us as an employer at odds with state employment laws.
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Re: Parking Lot Bill and sites on the Ship Channel

Postby blackmesa » Thu Jun 09, 2011 6:45 pm

57Coastie wrote:I write this simply to hopefully prevent some reader from getting in federal trouble by reading your post as saying they might be OK bringing a firearm into a waterfront security area parking lot contrary to rules of the Coast Guard. If I were the Captain of the Port of Houston I would have to roll my eyes if someone arrested in this facility for doing so told me "but Governor Perry and the Texas legislature say I can do this."

As an American citizen, I would have to roll my eyes at some jackbooted thug who thinks the Second Amendment isn't part of the Constitution of the United States.

sic semper tyrannis
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Re: Parking Lot Bill and sites on the Ship Channel

Postby 57Coastie » Thu Jun 09, 2011 7:28 pm

blackmesa wrote: As an American citizen, I would have to roll my eyes at some jackbooted thug who thinks the Second Amendment isn't part of the Constitution of the United States.

As an American citizen who has served his country both in and out of uniform for nearly 30 years, both at home and deployed abroad, disabled in the line of duty; as a native Texan who has strived to advance both the Second Amendment and all the others, again both in and out of uniform; I have to roll my eyes at a member of this forum who sets back what I thought was our common cause by convincing so many of our citizens that we are the gun nut Bubbas they imagine us to be, who unintelligently and unknowingly believe the Second Amendment means "any gun, by anyone, anywhere;" someone who has either not analyzed the latest legal cases on the 2A or is incapable of understanding what he is reading if he has even tried; someone who honestly thinks that the limitations on the scope of 2A recognized by the Supreme Court of the United States does not include rational, limited and relevant federal regulations related to preserving the security of the United States.

And then has the nerve and gall to call those in uniform serving our country protecting all of us from another 9/11 tragedy, "jackbooted thugs." I was in that number for a long time, and you, sir, insult not only me but all those who wear a uniform while others sit at home criticizing them.

Come and read this one, Brady Bunch, and throw it back in our face!

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Re: Parking Lot Bill and sites on the Ship Channel

Postby 57Coastie » Thu Jun 09, 2011 7:32 pm

canvasbck wrote:I am the FSO for a MTSA regulated facility. I can tell you that what you were told may or may not be correct. If your parking area is inside the secure area of the facility, then yes he was correct that you may not store a firearm in the vehicle. If your employee parking lot is outside of the secure area, then you may have a firearm locked inside your vehicle if you hold a CHL and you are a direct employee of the facility owner (not a contractor).

The USCG is the primary agency regulating the security of MTSA facilities (if you need a TWIC, your MTSA). They do not require Facility Security plans that address firearms outside of the secure area.

BTW, for a parking lot to be considered part of the secure area, it must pass all three prongs of the following three pronged test:
1) Must physically contain the plant (no fence or road in between the parking lot and your plant)
2) Must not be open to the public
3) Must be continuously monitored by security personnel

I have been working with a USCG commander on this issue and he has promised further guidance, but for now he agrees with my assessment of the USCG regulations vs the new law as stated here. The USCG is not interested in regulating our facility outside of the secure area and putting us as an employer at odds with state employment laws.

Agreed, Canvasbck. I certainly did not mean to imply that the USCG might be expected to expand their jurisdiction geographically beyond the current secure areas, although those areas are not frozen in scope forever. You will probably learn their formal response to the parking lot act, if any, before I do.

Best regards,

Jim


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Re: Parking Lot Bill and sites on the Ship Channel

Postby LTUME1978 » Thu Jun 09, 2011 8:45 pm

Folks,

Thank you for the replies and information. We do not need our TWIC card to enter the parking lot (yet). The TWIC card is not needed to enter the main office building but is needed to get past the reception area. The fenced area for the refinery is behind the main office building and it requires the TWIC card to enter the gate there (parking lot is in front of and on the sides of the Main Office Building). At present, the parking lot is open to the public. They have talked about putting up security arms to restrict entrance to the parking lot (probably with the TWIC to open them) but nothing has happened to date. There are cameras in the parking lot but I have no idea if they are all monitored 24 hours a day. I am not as worried about being unarmed during my normal daily commutes (but still don't like the idea) but I am very uncomfortable being unarmed when I get called out at 2 AM. Hope the Coast Guard will work with us on this. The first time someone is killed because they can't legally carry and defend themselves, there will be a big issue made over this "variation" in the parking lot.


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Re: Parking Lot Bill and sites on the Ship Channel

Postby rp_photo » Thu Jun 09, 2011 9:52 pm

LTUME1978 wrote:I was all excited to hear that the parking lot bill passed and was discussing that with one of the managers at our refinery.


To me it would seem best not to bring it up at all.
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Re: Parking Lot Bill and sites on the Ship Channel

Postby blackmesa » Thu Jun 09, 2011 10:05 pm

As an American citizen, I'm ashamed there are people in government "service" who can't understand plain English, or who intentionally ignore the plain English that limits legitimate government powers.
Think of me as a Karma facilitator.

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Re: Parking Lot Bill and sites on the Ship Channel

Postby ELB » Thu Jun 09, 2011 11:22 pm

57coastie, my point was that what I found with a quick search on Houston Ship Channel and "security," was that the HSCSD appears to be a state, not a federal entity and the USCG was listed (last) as a "partner", and that the security of the area pretty much seemed to reside with the Harris County Sheriff -- not any federal agency. Note I made allowance for the fact that I did not know what the MTSA really was, or that I might be wrong entirely. Sorry if that offended your sense of the Coast Guard's rightful place in the scheme of things.

Frankly, anyone who would entirely bet their job and legal safety on a single internet post probably shouldn't be totin' guns any way.
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Re: Parking Lot Bill and sites on the Ship Channel

Postby rp_photo » Fri Jun 10, 2011 12:52 am

Although I've been a gun owner and CHL for less than 6 months, I've been an avid hobby photographer for 6 years.

Most of my photography involves outdoor places, sometimes in areas where it's not completely clear if it's OK or wise to be photographing there. Also, onlookers often don't understand my motives and are sometimes uneasy about my presence. It just so happens that a common scernario for photographer run-ins involves Ship Channel Industry or waterways, and many involve police or security unfamiliar with photographer's rights.

I'm totally serious when I say this "underdog" experience has been of huge benefit in getting to understand the CHL mindset. Substitute the First Ammendment for the Second, and the plight is largely the same.

What I've learned is that it's often better to ask for forgiveness than permission unless the activity in question is clearly wrong, and that passive research is often preferable to directly asking. In fact, needless asking can actually be harmful as you can be told "no" unjustly, after which you will be open to extra scruitiny and will have perhaps even closed the door for others. This is the basis for my earlier comment about saying nothing rather than discussing the parking lot bill with a supervisor.

However, given that guns are more serious than cameras, we need to be more careful in our assumptions.
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Re: Parking Lot Bill and sites on the Ship Channel

Postby CWOOD » Fri Jun 10, 2011 1:51 am

blackmesa wrote:As an American citizen, I would have to roll my eyes at some jackbooted thug who thinks the Second Amendment isn't part of the Constitution of the United States.

sic semper tyrannis


blackmesa wrote:As an American citizen, I'm ashamed there are people in government "service" who can't understand plain English, or who intentionally ignore the plain English that limits legitimate government powers.


blackmesa, I welcome you as a new member.

I would respectfully suggest, however, that the use of incendiary terms in describing fellow forum members or members of our various uniformed services, does neither advance the acceptance of your point of view nor introduce your self to your fellow forum members in the best light. The specific incendiary term I reference is "jackbooted thug". You must admit that that term is heavily laden with historical baggage.

If I may be permitted one more observation, you will find that on this forum, members of our various uniformed services are rather highly regarded. To suggest that you are ashamed of them for being either ignorant or officially oppressive serves more as a commentary on yourself, sir, that it does on them.

Perhaps in other venues, a more aggressive and confrontational means of expression is needed or helpful in promoting a particular point of view. It is not the case here. In fact, many of us have gravitated to this site specifically because a more civil and polite tone is the norm. We generally feel it is a good thing to be able to disagree without being disagreeable.

Let me close by saying that I realize from your other posts that you too have served our nation extensively in uniform. For that I am sure all here thank you and honor you for that service. I certainly do.

I wish you many pleasant years here; exchanging ideas and comparing experiences and learning.
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Re: Parking Lot Bill and sites on the Ship Channel

Postby 57Coastie » Fri Jun 10, 2011 10:14 am

ELB wrote:57coastie, my point was that what I found with a quick search on Houston Ship Channel and "security," was that the HSCSD appears to be a state, not a federal entity and the USCG was listed (last) as a "partner", and that the security of the area pretty much seemed to reside with the Harris County Sheriff -- not any federal agency. Note I made allowance for the fact that I did not know what the MTSA really was, or that I might be wrong entirely. Sorry if that offended your sense of the Coast Guard's rightful place in the scheme of things.

Frankly, anyone who would entirely bet their job and legal safety on a single internet post probably shouldn't be totin' guns any way.

I am both deeply embarrassed and contrite that my earlier post may have implied that you had offended me in any sense whatsoever, ELB. That was certainly not my intent, and I apologize that my loose language might be read that way. :oops:

You researched the issue admirably with but one matter possibly overlooked. Given its apparent misunderstanding of the Coast Guard's overriding role in the security of waterfront facilities, regardless of who the owner or operator might be, could have led to a forum member less discerning than you getting crosswise with a federal LEO. Things will have really changed since my day if one does not find Coasties to be really nice guys and gals, and that they do not, as suggested elsewhere, wear jackboots.

I think the information you cited after your diligent research was rather misleading. I have no reason to question the authority of the local and state authorities here, but telling you that the Coast Guard is a "partner" does not recognize that just about everything, if not everything, done by these other authorities must be approved by the Coast Guard, if not lawfully demanded by the Coast Guard pursuant to federal law. Yours was a very rational conclusion based on misleading information.

I could not agree more with your second paragraph above, and I guess that was something I, too, might have said if I were not so conscious of avoiding unintentionally offending you. I trust another earlier post of mine makes it clear that if I want to insult someone who I feel deserves it, I make myself very clear and I am not subtle about it.

Best regards,

Jim


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Re: Parking Lot Bill and sites on the Ship Channel

Postby rp_photo » Fri Jun 10, 2011 10:25 am

Recent indidents such as the DOE allegedly kicking in a door and terrorizing a family over a student loan do nothing to dissuade the "jackboot" association.

Godwin's Law is also a factor: "As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 100%"
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