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By CJ Grisham, Founder of Open Carry Texas (www.OpenCarryTexas.org)

We call on Lt. Gov. Patrick to start optimistically leading the charge for a return of constitutional rights instead of pessimistically casting doubt. We didn’t elect Mr. Patrick to sit back and wait for support; we elected him to build support and return liberty to Texans from the front. The simple fact is this: if Mr. Patrick would make constitutional carry – the law in some form in 33 states – he would get the support. If he truly believed in constitutional carry like he said he does, he would prioritize it. Texas is way behind the power curve – one of only 17 states requiring a license to carry.

Instead, our Republican-led legislature is engaged in a slight of hand to placate gun owners and quell any effort to push for a return of our constitutionally protected rights. The bill to eliminate the cost of the LTC is nothing more than a charade to undermine a bill that would return the rights that were stolen from us 140 years ago by carpetbaggers and racists.

Don’t believe the hype. After meeting with dozens of legislators today, it is clear that Republicans will not allow SB16 to pass as written – free. Your rights will still be taxed because our “conservative” legislators are addicted to taxing our rights and can’t bring themselves to remove the cost completely. There is no doubt that the cost will be lower than $140 by the end of the session, but mark our words: you will still be paying for your rights and the license. Amendments are already planned by Republicans to undermine and keep that income to some degree. The only question is how much lower it will be. We will support any legislation that makes it easier to obtain a license, but that license should be voluntary.

Additionally, since when did the opinions of law enforcement become the arbiter of what rights we, the people, will be afforded? Are they servants or rulers? We already have nations in the world where the police make the laws and freedom isn’t exactly a word in those places. Besides, law enforcement didn’t support the licensed concealed carry bill in 1995 and it was a non-issue. Law enforcement didn’t support the motorist protection act in 2009 and it was a non-issue. Law enforcement didn’t support open carry and it was a non-issue. Law enforcement didn’t support campus carry and it was a non-issue. 33 states have unlicensed open carry and it isn’t an issue there. Why would it be here unless our legislators (and law enforcement) think Texans are less responsible Americans than the rest of the country?

If Mr. Patrick is saying that Texas law enforcement are incapable of handling the same rights the majority of other states enjoy, then his concern is misplaced. It sounds like we have a law enforcement problem. We, however, think Texas LEOs are more than capable of handling constitutional carry. In fact, we think they are more capable. This is Texas, after all.

We don’t have to theorize about how constitutional carry would affect law enforcement. In 2013, Mississippi passed constitutional open carry and, like clockwork, law enforcement opposed it. Ken Winter, the director of the state Association of Chiefs of Police, expressed concern by noting he is “a firm believer in law enforcement officers going home at the end of the day…From an officer safety standpoint, it appears that basically anybody who’s not a convicted felon can go anywhere with a gun.”

One year after Mr. Winter made that comment, he was forced to admit that passing unlicensed open carry has “kind of been a non-issue.” Four years later, all the predictions of doom and gloom have never materialized and law enforcement have had no problems going home at night due to the law.

The only obstacle to constitutional carry right now in the Senate is the Senate president: Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick. We call on him to be the leader we know he is and lead from the front instead of pulling up the rear and put some action behind his words.

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