SB730 and HB1301 are going to require a lot of effort on the part of voters in order to get this bill out of committee and passed, in it's current form. We are going to have to keep the pressure on our Representatives and Senators throughout the entire legislative process. We cannot simply make one call. Our business and industry opposition is making it known that they will spend a lot of money on this issue and this is no minor threat. When it comes to election campaigns, the petrochemical industry and the chambers of commerce can contribute a huge amount of money. The opposition from the business and petrochemical industry will be constant throughout the session! They have the money to hire lobbyists and keep them on the phones and in staff offices from now until the end of the session. What our opposition doesn't have is voters and that's where you come in.
The only way to counter this is to let our elected representatives know we want these bills passed and keep reminding them of this throughout the session until one of these bills passes. Then, we will turn our attention to the Governor who will be facing tremendous pressure to veto the bill.
Please call and write (snail mail or fax) your Senator and Representative and ask him/her to support SB730/HB1301. Don’t make any threats!!! They don’t work and they are counterproductive. What will help is a rational statement that these bills will prevent an employer’s parking lot policy from keeping you disarmed during your commute to and from work. This argument is even more persuasive if you have a long commute, if you are a woman driving alone or with your children, or if you work at night. Please point out these issues in a respectful manner. Also, don’t expect to talk directly to your Senator or Representative; they’re too busy to take calls. Their staff will make sure their boss is informed of his/her constituents’ opinions on these bills.
If you work in the petrochemical industry, your input is especially needed. Last session, the House author of the employer parking lot bill made an agreement that would have exempted the largest refineries from the bill. That would have left tens of thousands of workers without the protection others workers would have enjoyed. The petrochemical industry is asking for the same special treatment again and we cannot let that happen.
Another group that we need to address are union members. If you are in a union, please contact your union officials and try to get them to support these bills. The few unions with any power left in the State are primarily in the Houston petrochemical industry. But regardless of your union, please make the calls.
Although I wouldn’t use them in every letter you write or every call you make, take time to review the talking points on these bills:
- SB 730/HB1301 do not prevent an employer from keeping guns out of the workplace; it only applies to locked cars in the parking lot;
SB 730/HB1301 provide employers immunity from civil liability for any injury or damage that may result from storage of firearms in locked vehicles, unless the employer is grossly negligent.
SB 730/HB1301 allow employers to prohibit firearms in a parking area, if the parking lot is not accessible to the general public and the employer provides alternative parking for employees. Or the employer can opt to provide a place to lock up an unloaded firearm. This provision is especially useful to the petrochemical industry and any other business needing to protect sensitive areas.
SB 730/HB1301 would not apply to company-owned vehicles, nor would it allow storage of firearms in vehicles parked on property where the possession of firearms is prohibited under state or federal law.
As I said before, please, do not contact every Senator and Representative; just your own! Calling everyone waters down the effect by making it impossible for an elected official to get a good feel for how many people in his/her district are calling and/or writing.
If you want the employer parking lot bill passed, then please make the calls and send faxes now and keep them coming. We need to do this every week or ten days until one of these bills passes. It is not possible to overstate the level of opposition we are facing. TSRA and NRA are doing everything we can and we need your help. Our strength is in our members’ willingness to get involved. Make the calls, send the faxes, and get your family and friends to do likewise. If you want to do more, then set up email or phone trees and recruit as many people as possible to respond when you ask. Then watch TexasCHLforum for the “go” so we can have a coordinated impact.
I’ve already said this, but it is critical so I’ll say it again. Don’t threaten anyone; be respectful. The shear number of calls and faxes will get the message across, while threats and disrespectful comments will do far more harm than good. When we get involved in issues that mean a lot to us, it’s very easy for any of us to get emotional, me included, so we have to be on guard and not let that happen.