Guns tour of America: First stop Texas

unnamedOn August 1 this year, exactly 50 years after a student shot 49 people at the University of Texas, the Texas legislature finally passed laws regulating guns on university campuses. Remarkably, they didn’t ban guns on campus or requiremore stringent background tests before people got access to weapons. Instead laws were passed to allow concealed carry on all Texas university campuses.

So it goes in the US, with the answer to gun violence always seeming to come back to more guns. Austin Texas has the tragic mark of being the site of the first post-war mass public shooting in the US and it was here that we began our trip.

We wanted to speak with people who haven’t given up on getting some common sense in Texan gun laws. We started with Dan Hamermesh who isn’t your typical campaigner for gun control. He is a Professor of Economics who has an interesting take on the economic might of beauty in the workplace. He isn’t known for speaking up on gun violence but doesn’t much like the prospect of teaching a freshman economics class with 500 plus students, some of whom inevitably get upset with their results, when any number of them could be armed. Professor Hamermesh has given notice and UT has lost an internationally acclaimed academic.

img_6139Joan Neuberger is a highly respected Professor of History at UT. She is active on campus including
supporting the work of UT Students Against Guns on Campus. Texas law now prevents universities or academics like Professor Neuberger from demanding students leave their guns behind before they come into their lecture halls or seminar rooms. In Texas gun rights Trump all it seems. Bizarrely it is now illegal to carry a sex toy on UT campus but it’s ok to carry a glock pistol.

Then there is Texas Gun Sense, with Executive Director Andrea Brauer and Board Member Mary Lynn Rice- Lively. Texas Gun Sense is calling for practical legal changes that address gun violence. Some safer storage provisions to reduce firearm accidents and firearm suicides is a place they would like to start, as well as closing the many loopholes in requirements for background checks under Texan law. They are building the case for modest reforms while working to hold back plans for what the gun lobby calls ‘constitutional carry’.

img_5130Despite the challenges, especially in a post-Trump US, no one I spoke to is backing away from the cause. Professor Neuberger certainly isn’t giving up. In fact the anti-intellectual response she has received from the gun lobby (which matches that received by Professor Hamermesh) is just part of what many liberal-minded Americans see as a growing threat to civility that needs to be addressed.

When I’ve been talking to people striving for evidence based gun laws in Texas I’m not hearing a lot of angry denouncements of the gun lobby. They are frustrated, but their attention is directed to that mass of fellow citizens who want laws that keep them and their families safe. These are decent people working to have meaningful one-on-one engagements with the public and politicians. People who want to share the facts about guns and America’s dangerous exceptionalism when it comes to gun violence.

This is a wonderfully friendly country. It’s a smart place that leads the world in so many respects. However it has also just elected Trump and keeps responding to gun violence with … more guns. When I confront that mix that’s when I remember only a fraction of the adult population actually voted for Trump. The challenge is to reach and motivate that great majority who are looking for a reason to believe things can be better.

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22 Responses to Guns tour of America: First stop Texas

  1. Darren December 2, 2016 at 12:39 pm #

    Why are you their talking to people when you refuse to listen to facts from pro gun people in Australia? Why do you still refuse to acknowledge that criminals with illegal firearms are the problem and continue to attack the licenced firearms owners that aren’t the problem. How do you plan to take ILLEGAL firearms off CRIMINALS?

    • Kym December 5, 2016 at 10:44 am #

      We’ve said it many times but arguing for gun control isn’t “attacking firearms owners”.

      The police are the ones working to get illegal firearms out of our communities, and those firearms are illegal because we have strong gun control laws – licensing and storage requirements etc.

  2. R T Masters December 2, 2016 at 12:44 pm #

    David, the reason the student could shoot 49 people was the fact that nobody else was armed. Today if a student tried the same thing, somebody in the room would be able to put him down before he could do to much damage. The other question is, would he even try it because he would know that so many other people are armed.

  3. Scott R December 2, 2016 at 12:46 pm #

    There are like 2 million CC permit holders in Texas…..
    Statistically the same that there would be in Australia.

    But that is none of my business.

  4. Dan December 2, 2016 at 12:47 pm #

    Interesting. Seems like a lot of dribble to me.
    Not very well researched at all.

    For someone with your intelligence i expected much more. Very dusappointed

  5. Brendan December 2, 2016 at 1:19 pm #

    So what your “fact finding mission” is to find a bunch of people who you know are going to agree with your point of view and ignore everyone else. Well done. I suppose, you do it at home, why would I expect you to do any different over seas.

  6. Dan Blasberg December 2, 2016 at 1:23 pm #

    So, did you meet with any Texas State pro gun organizations, say Students for Concealed carry or The Texas State Rifle and Pistol Association? How about The Texas Concealed Handgun Association or Texas Gun Rights?

    You see, until you start including those from both sides and not just those from the anti-gun side, you will be seen as a one-sided, disengenius individual on a witch hunt to find the worst side all of the time with regards to firearms ownership in the US.

  7. Ima Hunta December 2, 2016 at 3:56 pm #

    I’m told that, per-capita, Germany has a worse ‘gun crime’ record. I’d go to the trouble of providing statistics, but I know you’d ignore, delete, and block them as you do everything that doesn’t conform to your ‘narrative’. Keep blocking facts from your Facebook page. It only prover we firearms owner are right, and that you have a disingenous agenda.

  8. Daniel December 2, 2016 at 4:09 pm #

    I was wondering why you didnt start your tour in Chicago, Chicago has some of Americas toughest gun laws and also has one of Americas highest gun related homicide rates. Just recently on thanksgiving weekend 68 people were shot in Chicago, eight of those people died. The same time last year twenty people were shot and eight died. With Chicago’s tough gun laws these shootings demonstrate that criminals dont obey gun laws, and law abiding citizens are left with no means of self defense.
    Texas on the other hand has seen a fall in crimes since introducing the concealed carry licence in 1995. So the reduction in violent crimes would indicate that Texan gun laws are working more efficiently than states like Chicago or California who have taken the opposite approach to gun laws.

  9. Adam Basham December 2, 2016 at 4:18 pm #

    And it was private citizens who kept the shooter at bay before police arrived, It was also private armed citizens who helped police in the assault on the clock tower….

  10. Jacob December 2, 2016 at 5:33 pm #

    This is pretty biased. Have you talked to anyone on the other side of the issue?

    • Kym December 5, 2016 at 10:32 am #

      Yes we’ve approached the NRA among other groups.

  11. 1SG(Ret) CJ Grisham December 2, 2016 at 6:08 pm #

    Why didn’t you mention that the UT shooter was stopped by….ARMED STUDENTS?! That’s right. When the shooting started students went and grabbed their rifles from their dorms and cars and helped pin the shooter down – while cops and AN ARMED CITIZEN scaled the tower – so he couldn’t kill more people. Why didn’t you “report” that?

  12. 1SG(Ret) CJ Grisham December 2, 2016 at 6:10 pm #

    Also, carrying a sex toy is NOT illegal. Are you going to say ANYTHING factual while you’re in our state?

  13. Southenr Boy December 2, 2016 at 6:30 pm #

    Go home !!!

  14. dave hergstrom December 2, 2016 at 8:41 pm #

    Why dont you go to Chicago and see how well gun control is working there?

  15. David Ward December 2, 2016 at 9:16 pm #

    This was the actions of an ex-marine, not a student of the university, that was suffering from anger management/ mental problems.
    No laws would have stopped this person, only an armed guard, possibly.
    He killed 13 ppl, but of course it’s sounds better when you just put up the total number of ppl shot.
    I didn’t see that you have any solutions to these problems. It’s not the guns as many countries have semi-auto firearms & don’t have mass shootings, one example is New Zealand.

  16. George Psofimis December 3, 2016 at 10:42 pm #

    The US has a crime problem in the inner cities not a gun problem. Fix that problem and watch the gun deaths fall drastically. American gunnies know that truth, and won’t fall for your disarmament agenda. The only way you’re going to get your policies enacted is by force. There are an estimated 600 million firearms in the states. Good luck, I’ll be watching gleefully.