For twenty years I have been listening to the nonsense about how ‘armed citizens’ make us safe. And alongside this fantasy has been the companion stupidity, namely, that it’s not just that carrying a gun is a good thing, but carrying a gun in plain sight is even better. Be advised, incidentally, that there is not a single piece of credible research which proves either of these safety strategies to be true. But where is it written that a public policy or the statements of a public official need to be backed up by credible research? Or any research, for that matter.
Just this week the Governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, assured the good citizens of the Sovereign State of Texas that he would personally make sure that an upcoming military exercise called Jade Helm, was not, in fact, an “invasion” of Texas by Federal armed forces. You can’t blame Texans for being worried about the Federal government coming in with troops to do whatever they are planning to do. After all, remember Waco? And since Abbott’s predecessor, Jim Perry, used to regularly shoot his mouth off about plans for Texas to secede for the second time, who knows?
Getting back to Abbott, as I said, he’s been a leading proponent of open-carry laws and just last month signed a bill that allows Texans to openly display handguns in most public places throughout the state. The law exempts college campuses from open carry, but a bill that would close this loophole will probably be passed later this year. Earlier this year the NRA actually demonstrated a brief moment of sanity by advising its members to ‘stand down’ and stop openly carrying guns in restaurants and other public places; this brief display of fortitude, however, was reversed within two days with a public apology from the NRA to all its gun-totin’ members in the Lone Star State.
If Governor Abbott believes that pandering to the open carry crowd is going to keep Texas from moving politically from red to blue, he might be in for a big surprise. The increase of Hispanics in Texas has become so great that they could represent a majority of the electorate in 2016 – assuming that every eligible voter actually registers and shows up to vote. And when it comes to gun ownership, Hispanics don’t seem to be enamored of the 2nd Amendment in a way that bodes positive for the gun industry in Texas or anywhere else. Despite an endless barrage of noise about how “new” shooters like women and minorities are swelling gun-owning ranks, the fact is that gun ownership is still concentrated in the same demographic where it has always lived, namely, older White men in rural areas, second-tier cities and smaller towns.
Which is why I found a tweet by Abbott sent to me by a friend last night so interesting and deserving of a comment today. Because for the first time since the whole ‘armed citizen’ rubbish started being promoted twenty years ago, someone has finally come out and explained the real reason why the NRA and the gun industry want you to walk around carrying a gun.
Abbott’s tweet, pasted up on July 8, was in response to a message from a guy named Rupert Ellis announcing to the world that he was about to open his first gun shop in Texas, although it appears that the shop won’t probably be open to the public for another few months. But sending an announcement to the Governor is a clever way to drum up some publicity, particularly when the Governor actually responds! And here is Abbott’s response: “Welcome to the gun business. I hope open carry boosts sales.”
Bingo! Greg Abbott has finally done what no single pro-gun organization or gun nut has ever done, namely, admitted that the real reason for promoting the notion of the ‘armed citizen’ is to boost the sale of guns. Congratulations Mister Governor, you’re the only honest one out there.