Texans love our guns, and we are not about to part with them.
But at some point, Texans will begin to ask whether lobbyists and Texas lawmakers really have the best ideas about carrying them, and how to keep Texans safe in an age when the next security guard might be an ISIS wannabe extremist.
Before licensed gun owner Omar Mateen took a legally purchased rifle and pistol into an Orlando nightclub Sunday and killed 50 people, some in an Arlington concert crowd had already been frightened to see rifles Friday in a peaceful justice-system protest during a Levitt Pavilion concert.
In Paris and again in Orlando, terrorists used loud music as cover to begin a shooting spree. If there is anywhere to worry about a gunman, it’s in a concert crowd where the first shots can’t be heard.
Yet carrying rifles and now pistols is legal in most public concert venues in Texas, and Arlington’s lawmakers were some of the leaders passing those laws.
State Rep. Jonathan Stickland and other lawmakers have already said they want to do away with licenses completely next legislative session and stop registering or keeping records of who’s carrying a handgun.
In the face of both home-grown global terror and with the underfunded state mental hospitals full and spilling over, do we need more guns and more armed citizens in more public places?
How easy should it be for someone not suspected of any crime but on an FBI terror watch list to get guns in Florida, or for some fan to stalk and kill The Voice singer Christina Grimmie, or for a teenager fresh out of the mental ward to lure and gun down Euless police officer David Hofer?
These are the decisions facing Texans and Americans, and they are not easy ones.
What we definitely know is that any kneejerk reaction is probably wrong, and that sweeping generalities don’t solve problems.
Speaking of sweeping generalities, there is the matter of Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s Twitter feed.
At 7 a.m. Sunday, as word was coming out from the bloody Florida scene at an LGBT nightclub targeted in America’s worst mass shooting, Patrick’s campaign communications staff tweeted a Bible verse from the Epistle to the Galatians 6:7: “God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.”
After the tweet was taken down — four hours later — his spokesman later said it was a pre-scheduled Sunday morning Bible verse and expressed regret for the timing. (But another tweet at 7:30 a.m., from Psalms, appeared to be the regular verse and included the usual weekly note, “Have a blessed Sunday!”)
It was easy to take the first tweet as a slam against the Florida victims, or as an attempt to stir up a divisive political backlash, much like his continued harping on civil rights laws and bathrooms.
Patrick and his spokesman expressed sympathy for the victims and regret for the timing. Posting on Facebook from an island trip, Patrick somehow made himself the victim of “hateful comments … directed at me and God’s word.”
He did manage to mention the “terrible killings” and asked his critics to join him: “The enemy is ISIS not each other. We must come together to fight them. ISIS believes in the killing of gays. America does not and Christians do not. Let’s focus on the real enemy.”
If only it were that easy.