As Ed mentioned yesterday, there was a bit of open warfare between biker gangs in Texas this week. (That’s led to a host of wild and wooly discussions which I really need to attend to later today.) An outbreak of violence such as this will always get public officials and law enforcement in the mood to discuss public safety and how they deal with organized crime. This is as it should be. Unfortunately, it also provides a ready platform for opportunists who wish to use the occasion to push their own agenda. The founder of anti-second amendment group Moms Demand Action decided that this was an ideal time to oppose pending open carry legislation in the Lone Star state.
— Shannon (@shannonrwatts) May 18, 2015
Unfortunately for Shannon Watts, the Governor of Texas is having none of it.
For gun rights advocates, shootings such as Sunday’s biker melee in Waco, Texas, only seem to prove the need for fewer gun restrictions.
The day after rival gangs opened fire on one another at a Waco restaurant, leaving 9 dead and 18 injured, lawmakers in the Texas Senate returned to work on a bill that would legalize the open carry of firearms in the state.
“The shootout occurred when we don’t have open carry, so obviously the current laws didn’t stop anything like that,” Texas Governor Greg Abbott told the Associated Press. The bill permitting open carry has already passed the state House, and the Senate is expected to follow suit soon.
Anyone who is surprised by this hasn’t been following the Governor’s twitter account.
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) March 16, 2015
For the people attempting to conflate these two issues I would humbly put forward one question: knowing what we know now about the circumstances leading up to that episode of gang warfare at Twin Peaks, how would open carry laws have made the situation worse? Would the bikers be able to draw faster if their guns were in a thigh holster rather than tucked inside of their leather jackets? Would individuals in possession of illegal weapons (who were also willing to engage in a shootout) decide to leave them home? There’s a key point about these laws which liberal critics seem to miss.
Open or concealed carry laws are not in place to restrict the actions of criminals. They are in place to empower the law abiding.
The shootout was an alarming act of brazen criminal activity to be sure. Of course, while not excusing such mayhem in any way, one thing to keep in mind is that law enforcement was able to quickly corral the situation and the collateral damage was essentially nil. (There are a shocking number of dead and wounded, but they are pretty much all bikers who were involved in the scrum.) Much like the old, unspoken compact between the mob and the cops in the northeast, the bikers seemed to restrict the violence to each other rather than rampaging through an entire city and burning the place down. Once the cops arrived, the battle ended pretty quickly and a massive number of gangsters are in jail on a million dollars bond and facing capital murder and conspiracy charges. That’s what we expect the cops to do, isn’t it?
In short, there are bad actors in this world, but it looks like the long arm of the law in Texas is doing their jobs. How exactly does this situation relate in any way to the open carry debate? As far as I can see it doesn’t.