Tag Archives: gun violence

Open carry bill set to become state law

Believe it or not, I’m going to keep an open mind on open carry.

The Texas House of Representatives has approved a bill that would allow licensed concealed carry holders to wear their sidearms openly. The state Senate already had approved it. Gov. Greg Abbott says he’ll sign it when it gets to his desk.


Some legislative Democrats had sought to soften the bill by allowing big-city residents to vote on whether to opt out of the state law. That was a reasonable amendment to the bill, given that urban residents have a different view of open carry legislation than rural residents. Someone in the Oak Cliff neighborhood of south Dallas thinks differently of the bill than, say, someone living in Dumas or Dalhart.

“Rural open carry is different than densely populated open carry,” state Rep. Rafael Anchia, D-Dallas, said. “If you put this to a vote in big cities, I think people are going to say resoundingly no.”

The amendment failed.

Now that I am resigned to open carry legislation set to become law, I’ll respect the Legislature’s decision — even though I disagree with it.

I now will hope that open carry doesn’t become the monstrosity I feared back in 1995 when the Legislature approved concealed carry legislation.

The concealed carry bill hasn’t produced shootouts in intersections, for which I am grateful.

Time will tell on this open-carry legislation. I’m going to hope for the best.


Campus-carry gun bills are reloaded

Yeah, that’s the ticket.

College and university campuses have been victimized for decades by gun violence, so what do some Texas legislators want to do? They want to allow folks to pack heat onto those campuses.

That’s the way to solve the issue of gun violence. Bring in more guns.


Texas Senate Bill 11 has 19 co-sponsors, which under the new rules of the Senate makes it eligible for vote in the full Senate. SB 11 won’t allow guns into campus hospitals, nor will it allow guns in elementary schools. I guess that’s a small victory for common sense.

When I read a blog posted by the Houston Chronicle about the bill’s status with the University of Texas System, well, I got a bit confused. The blog states: “Similar legislation has been proposed in previous years but failed after heavy opposition, especially from campus leaders. University of Texas Chancellor William McRaven recently came out against the effort.”

I can’t tell by reading this post whether McRaven — a retired Navy admiral and one-time SEAL — opposes the legislation or opposes the effort to derail it.

Whatever the case, the notion of allowing more guns onto higher education campuses makes this Texan — that would be me — quite nervous.



Heroes do wear blue

Chris Martin is a blogger I follow and he has hit one right on the sweet spot regarding police officers.


He calls the good cops “true heroes.” His hook, of course, is the hideous shooting death of two New York City police officers by the goon who was retaliating for the choking death of Eric Garner in Staten Island — and the grand jury declining the police officer involved in that tragic event.

So the goon took matters into his own hands and shot the officers as they sat in their car in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of NYC.

Martin writes eloquently about how society attaches the word “hero” to movie stars and athletes. I’ve said much the same thing over the years. He notes that good cops and teachers don’t get paid enough, particularly in relation to the aforementioned movie stars and athletes. He’s so very right.

Of course, Martin takes care to note that the bad police officers give the good ones a bad name.

Sure enough. But you can find bad seeds in every walk of life. I’ve run into bad shoe sales representatives. You’ll find bad grocery store clerks, bad plumbers and electricians, bad computer techs. Heck, I once even called out a rude barista at a coffee shop here in Amarillo.

Bad cops? Bad firefighters? Bad airline pilots, for heaven’s sake? Well, when those individuals perform badly, then all hell breaks loose — as it should.

But police officers put their lives on the line every single day. They might not step directly into harm’s way with every call they get on their radio — but they could.

I’m thinking, as is Martin, about the families of the policemen who were gunned down the other night in NYC. So, I’ll repeat the advice he writes in his blog: “When you lie down to sleep tonight, say a prayer for the police officer patrolling the dark streets in order to protect the innocent.”


Teacher emerges as hero

Megan Silberberger likely didn’t ever envision her job requiring this kind of heroism.

When a young freshman high school student began shooting at classmates this past week in Marysville, Wash., Silberberger did a profoundly heroic deed. She confronted the shooter and ordered him to stop.


Witnesses have said Silberberger grabbed the shooter’s arm and, in effect, neutralized him, if only for a moment.

The boy, Jaylen Fryberg, would then turn the gun on himself and end his life.

One other student by then had been shot dead and four others had been wounded.

The tragedy had come to a sudden end.

Details of the confrontation haven’t yet been released through official channels, but enough eyewitness accounts of what people saw cast Megan Silberberger as the hero in this tragic event.

CNN.com reported: “Police have not yet said how many shots in total were fired, but there was at least one bullet left in the cartridge before the confrontation with Silberberger — because the final shot was the one that ended Fryberg’s life. A Beretta .40-caliber handgun believed used in the shooting has been traced to Fryberg’s father, according to the source.”

How does one explain such a tragedy?

Fryberg was known to be a popular student. He’d been named homecoming prince at Marysville Pilchuck High School. He was popular — quite obviously — among his peers at the suburban Seattle school. He also was described as a “happy” boy. What set off this rampage is now Question No. 1 for school and law enforcement authorities.

But these tragedies occasionally have ways of producing characters worthy of high praise.

I hope we’ll know more in due course about what is believed to be known about Megan Silberberger’s actions that day in the high school cafeteria.

I also hope she’ll recover emotionally from the extreme danger she faced down, likely never expecting such mind-blowing trauma when she went to work that day.


Prosecute Hinckley for murder? Why not?

Murder carries no statute of limitations, meaning that prosecutors have no time limit to bring charges against someone accused of such crimes.

Thus, it is possible that 33 years after nearly killing then-White House press secretary James Brady, the man who shot him might face murder charges upon Brady’s recent death.


Medical authorities have ruled Brady’s death a homicide, as he died of complications from the gunshot wound to the brain he suffered as John Hinckley tried to assassinate President Reagan. Brady was the most grievously wounded in the hail of gunfire in March 1981. He never recovered fully, although he later became an advocate for gun control.

Should prosecutors now charge Hinckley — who was acquitted of all charges on grounds of insanity — with murder in Brady’s death? Yes.

The gunman took someone’s life. The law is quite clear on what he did that day in Washington, D.C. Why should it matter that the victim — Brady — lived more than three decades after that terrible event? He’s now gone, the result of that terrible gunshot wound.

John Hinckley was the assailant. He’s now a murderer.

Prosecute him.

R.I.P., James Brady

The New York Times article attached to this blog post commemorates James Brady for what he was: an advocate for gun control and a friend of those who sought to curb the gun violence that struck him down.

He was all of that.

Brady, who died Monday at age 73, was grievously wounded in the March 1981 assassination attempt on President Reagan. He was hit in the head by a bullet fired by John Hinckley, suffering paralysis, speech loss and short-term memory loss.

As the president’s press secretary, he was standing just a few feet from the president when Hinckley opened fire.

But what likely won’t be told in the days in the ahead about James Brady was that in the brief time he served as press spokesman for the White House — Reagan had taken office just three months prior to being wounded in the shooting — is that Brady had enormous respect among the men and women who covered the president.

Brady was known as a straight-arrow. He understood his “clientele,” the hard-core press hounds who could sniff out BS when it presented itself. He didn’t get them any baloney. From what I’ve heard over the years from those who covered the White House, the folks in the press room really took an instant liking to Brady.

Compare that with the testiness in White House-press relations that has emerged before and since Brady’s brief stint at the press room microphone.

His real legacy, certainly, will be that of a passionate advocate for gun control. Whether one agrees or disagrees with his view, James Brady came by it honestly. He took a bullet in the brain and paid a terrible price while serving the nation.

His national service, while too short, was stellar.

Cassidy personifies courage

The current Bravest Person in the World is a 15-year-old Texas girl named Cassidy Stay.

She has just witnessed the worst act of cruelty any human being can ever imagine: the slaying of her entire immediate family, her parents and her four siblings, ages 4 through 13. Cassidy also was a target of the shooter. She was hospitalized in critical condition but she’s now out of the hospital.


Cassidy today stood before friends and family members gathered at a memorial service and quoted Dumbledore from the Harry Potter stories. “Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times,” Cassidy said, citing J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban,” “if one only remembers to turn on the light.”

How does anyone — let alone a teenager — stand before the world and offer comfort to the rest of us?

Cassidy lives in Spring, a Houston suburb. Ronald Lee Haskell is charged with capital murder. He allegedly barged into the Stays’ home and opened fire. He was seeking his estranged wife, who wasn’t in the house.

Her strength and courage defy description. “I know that my Mom, Dad, Brian, Emily, Becca and Zach are in a much better place, and that I will be able to see them again one day,” Cassidy said at the gathering.

My goodness. How does one summon the strength to say such things in public so soon after witnessing what no one ever should witness?

The nation should pray for this little girl. I’m doing so right now.

Sandy Hook didn't stop anything

Hey, wait a minute. Wasn’t that mass murder at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., supposed to be the Mother of All Wakeup Calls to end gun violence in America?

Weren’t we supposed to have been shaken to our core, energized in an unprecedented way to seek an end to this madness?

I thought so, too.

Silly me.

Check out the map here and ask yourself: Why has this violence continued?



That’s the number of school shootings that have occurred since Sandy Hook, where 20 first-graders and six teachers were killed by that single madman, who then shot himself to death.

The latest incident occurred near my hometown of Portland, Ore., where a 15-year-old Reynolds High School student walked into a locker room and killed a 14-year-old freshman instantly with a single bullet. The shooter then took his own life.

We’re outraged yet again. President Obama said after the Portland tragedy that “we’re the only industrialized nation” where this kind of violence occurs with such regularity.

I don’t have the answer. Nor do I know where to find it.

The Second Amendment says we have the right to keep and bear arms. I don’t believe it says everyone in America — regardless of their mental condition — has the same rights to a firearm as most of the rest of us.

There must be a way to prevent them from putting their hands on deadly weapons — and putting our children at such horrifying risk.

Fort Hood … again

Violence has erupted at Fort Hood yet again.

It’s early in the aftermath of the latest shooting rampage at the sprawling Army post in Central Texas.

Four people — including the gunman — are dead and many others are injured.


It was less than five years ago that Army Major Nadal Hasan opened fire on his fellow soldiers while protesting the Pentagon’s war policies in Afghanistan. Hasan, a psychiatrist and a devout Muslim, had been ordered to Afghanistan; he wouldn’t go, so he embarked on a senseless rampage. An Army court martial convicted him and sentenced him to death.

Now this event.

The nation’s heart breaks once again at this senseless shooting. President Obama vows to get to the bottom of what transpired. Joint Chiefs Chairman Martin Dempsey said the Pentagon’s main focus right now is to support the families of those who were killed or wounded.

Meanwhile, the simplest of questions arises from this tragic act. Why?

Tragedy defies ability to comprehend

There are times when national tragedies go far beyond people’s ability to understand.

Today was one of those times.

Twelve innocent victims are dead at the hands of a gunman, Aaron Alexis of Fort Worth, who then was killed in a fire fight with law enforcement authorities at the Washington, D.C., Navy Yard.

How does one grasp something like this?

A few questions popped into my head during the day as I was running around at work and catching snippets of news broadcasts on TV.

I learned that Alexis had a concealed handgun carry permit, issued in Texas. I also learned that he had two minor firearms-related incidents on his record, one in 2004 and another in 2010. I haven’t yet heard when Alexis was issued his concealed carry permit. Was it after those incidents? Was it before they occurred? If he received the permit after the shooting-related incidents, how did he qualify to carry a handgun on his person? If he received the permit beforehand, were the incidents entered into his background data base? If not, why not? If so, how was he allowed to keep his permit?


Of course, Alexis reportedly was carrying three weapons into the Navy Yard: a pistol, a shotgun and an AR-15 assault rifle. The only weapon covered by the concealed carry permit would have been the pistol.

However, he purchased all the guns legally — including the assault rifle, according to news reports.

Again, given his record of firearms-related disturbance, how did that happen?

This tragedy is going to take some time process.

Our hearts are broken once again.