Texas legislators were embroiled in a bitter dispute over whether or not they should have special gun privileges. Some legislators wanted to lift all concealed carry restrictions for Texas legislators, while other lawmakers called out their peers for drafting bills designed for personal gain. If passed, the bill would allow Texas legislators to carry a concealed weapon anywhere in the Lone Star State.
The provision was added onto a bill that would penalize cities and counties for prohibiting guns from public facilities where they were otherwise permitted. The bill was already on the fast track for approval in both houses but the concealed carry provision slowed things to a halt, however, as critics voiced their distaste for the provision.
Rep. Kenneth Sheets (R) gave the opening salvo, “When I was sent here, I was sent to take care of my constituents, not to advance my own self-interests.” Rep. Jonathan Strickland (R) supported the original bill, but he switched his stance after the addition of the new provision. “I’m very sad that we took a bill that I supported and did this to it,” he said.
At the center of the controversy was Rep. Ryan Guillen (D). Guillen, who sponsored the bill, led his colleagues to believe that he would remove the concealed carry provision. When it reached the floor with the provision intact, legislators blasted Guillen for promoting special privileges. They voted 103-38 to defeat the bill.
Guillen and other lawmakers, such as Rep. Van Taylor (R), argued that legislators needed the special gun privileges because they regularly received death threats. He argued, “I’m surprised to hear so many people on this floor have received death threats. I had just thought it was just me, but it’s widespread.”
Rep. Chris Turner (D) wasn’t hearing it. He argued that many different people, including journalists and celebrities, receive death threats. He asked, “Why just us?”
Not only was the bill unfair, but it might have also been unconstitutional. The 14th Amendment gives citizens equal protection, which generally means that a law that applies to one person has to apply to every person. Legislators creating laws for their own self interest sets a dangerous precedent wherein lawmakers can exploit the legal system for their own personal gain.
Source: Dallas News