I'll drink to that
Make beer not war: Forget open carry, Texas needs open container laws
One of the joys of my time in Eastern Europe was the ability to drink in public. Window-shopping and train-riding are greatly enhanced by sipping spirits.
Yes, some people took advantage of the freedom. But if you’re the type of person who gets drunk on a sidewalk, the threat of Johnny Law likely never stopped you in the first place. Open container laws allow adults to legally imbibe outside the confines of private spaces. We can smoke in a park; why can’t we drink?
The Texas Legislature is more comfortable with the idea of residents walking around with exposed weapons than open containers of alcohol.
So when I heard the Texas Legislature would consider a bill in January to allow open carry, I was elated. I’d love to pop open a cold one on the METROrail or wander through Uptown Park with a glass of wine. 2013 was looking all right in my book.
Except the bill isn’t about booze — it’s about guns.
Somehow, the Texas Legislature is more comfortable with the idea of residents walking around with exposed weapons than open containers of alcohol. I’m not angling to take away someone’s right to carry a gun. Knock yourself out, cowboy. But a weapon’s lack of concealment is actually a safety issue, unlike the visibility of my Pinot Grigio. If a gun isn’t tucked away, it’s more likely to dislodge or discharge. The worst-case scenario with my wine is a spilled glass.
Don’t believe me? Try this on for size: In 2010, the New Hampshire Legislature voted to allow lawmakers to carry weapons in the state house. Since doing so, a number of guns have ended up, unattended, on the floor of that same government building.
As recounted in an episode of “This American Life,” Rep. Kyle Tasker dropped his gun during a public safety committee hearing. Another lawmaker admitted that his weapon — holster and all — fell off his person outside the state house.
A weapon’s lack of concealment is actually a safety issue, unlike the visibility of my Pinot Grigio.
When asked about his dropping his gun, which for the record did not discharge, Tasker was nonplussed.
“All I could think was, ‘Yeah, that was bound to happen one of these days,’” Tasker told reporter Sarah Koenig. “I come here too often for that not to have happened.”
Yes, 44 states already allow some form of open carry. But those states aren’t Texas, where about half a million people are licensed to carry a gun. Granted, that is less than 2 percent of the state population. It’s still 461,724 people packing heat.
There’s also the power of suggestion. Just as my ice cold Woodchuck Cider might cause a passerby to salivate during summer, so too could the sight of a gleaming Glock 9 entice more people to gun ownership, and I’d much prefer the proliferation of pale ales than pistols.