Other Voices

Author of Texas' conceal carry law defends Governor's gun safety plan

Gov. Greg Abbott meets with law enforcement, students and others during roundtable discussions aimed at improving school safety in Texas.
Gov. Greg Abbott meets with law enforcement, students and others during roundtable discussions aimed at improving school safety in Texas. Office of Gov. Greg Abbott

Times of tragedy call for clarity in words and deeds so as to not deepen the damage done by those with evil intent.

I commend Gov. Greg Abbott for the clarity of his leadership and for his draft "School and Firearm Safety Plan" developed with input from victims, parents, superintendents, teachers, lawmakers, law enforcement and mental health experts following the tragic shooting at Santa Fe High School.

I’ve been around Texas politics longer than many. I’ve defended our liberties as a Marine, as a lawmaker, as author of our state’s concealed handgun law, and as a proud patriot and Texan. I don’t pander — I say what I mean, and mean what I say. I doubt there has ever been a Texas governor with a more pro-gun record than Governor Abbott. He is a potent force and national leader in the essential defense of our liberty.

I know that Governor Abbott will never allow our individual right to keep and bear arms — given by God and secured by the 2nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution — to ever be infringed. We stand together in promoting responsible gun ownership, as all gun owners should, and that includes keeping guns out of the hands of criminals.

There have recently been erroneous criticisms about the Governor’s plan as it relates to the 2nd Amendment. In addition to critical measures to improve school safety such as more armed and trained personnel on campus and increased access to mental health resources and funding, the Governor’s plan proposes six measures to enhance firearm safety while preserving our 2nd Amendment rights, including:

Closing gaps in information reporting for federal background checks by creating a case management system for Texas judges;

Encouraging the Texas Legislature to carefully study the possible creation of a “red flag” law to permit the removal

of firearms from a potentially dangerous person — only after legal due process

provided, and on a temporary basis;

Requiring the courts to report within 48 hours any judgment, protective order or

family violence conviction affecting the right to legally purchase and possess firearms;

Strengthening the state’s existing safe firearm storage law by: changing the

definition of “child” to include 17-year-olds; clarifying that secure storage of a firearm

around children is required whether loaded or unloaded; and increasing the penalty

level from a Class A misdemeanor to a 3rd degree felony when access results in death

or serious bodily injury;

Promoting the voluntary use of devices to secure firearms;

Requiring gun owners report when their firearms are lost or stolen within 10 days to

aid law enforcement.

I am 100 percent supportive of the objectives laid out by Gov. Abbott, but like many I need to see the final product or draft legislation. Some of the proposals are no-brainers. Some raise serious concerns. When all is said and done, I’m confident the Governor’s plan will protect lawful gun ownership and respect the 2nd Amendment.

The Governor’s plan will not create a new mandatory storage law.

The Governor’s plan will not change any law that allows for self-defense, including the castle doctrine.

The Governor’s plan will not change or undermine any law or constitutional provision that protects the right to bear arms for any lawful purpose.

The Governors plan will provide for due process, and protect our constitutional rights, particularly those enumerated in the 2nd, 4th, and 5th amendments to the U.S. Constitution and the comparable provisions in the Texas Constitution's Bill of Rights.

Each of Gov. Abbott’s proposals should generate respectful debate, not online outrage by some who may not have read the plan and aren’t familiar with current law. I invite my fellow citizens to read the Governor’s plan in full and then present cogent arguments for and against each measure, or offer new ideas.

That is our responsibility, as Texans, as gun owners, as proud patriots, to prevent the loss of more innocent lives in the future while preserving our constitutional rights.

Jerry Patterson is a former commissioner of the Texas General Land Office and a former state senator who successfully authored legislation to allow concealed carry of firearms.