You can hardly call yourself a Texan if you don’t know who our Texas Land Commissioner is, especially since he used to be a state senator. And Jerry Patterson wasn’t just any state senator, either. No. He was the state senator who carried the legislation that allows citizens to carry concealed handguns in Texas.
That may not seem like a major thing to some, but when you consider that every time a citizen in Texas stops a crime with a legally concealed and carried pistol they have Jerry to thank for that, it becomes a very big thing, indeed. And that happens several times a day, on average. So there’s no telling, literally, how many lives Jerry has saved in the last seventeen years.
Plus, Jerry and I have a history. Well, OK, maybe not an actual history. I wrote about him in a column once, and he sent me an email saying he approved. Normally, when I get mail from readers, it contains rude language in misspelled words, so an approval is high praise, especially coming from the Texas Land Commissioner.
That column was about how Jerry has been pushing to get Concealed Handgun Licenses approved as legal proof of identification, when a state-issued photo ID is required. As far as I know that hasn’t happened yet, but I’m sure it will, sooner or later. It’s only logical, anyway, since a CHL is everything a driver license is, and more. It’s issued by Texas DPS, has the owner’s photo and driver license number on it, and you can’t get one without being a citizen. Plus it proves the holder has been vetted, and so is not a criminal. What more could you ask?
So I’m thinking Jerry will end up winning that one, eventually, even though he’s fighting an uphill battle against ignorance, apathy, misinformation, and lack of common sense, the Four Horsemen of the Bureaucracy. It’s a thankless job, but someone has to do it.
And since Jerry is the right man for something like that, I’m thinking he’s also the right man for another job I’d like him to take on, which is why I’m writing this column. What I’d like to challenge Jerry to do may be a little out of his jurisdiction, but I really don’t see a guy like Jerry letting a small detail like that hold him back. Flattery gets you everywhere with these politicians.
For some reason no one can figure out, your federal government thinks suppressors need to be regulated, and anyone who wants one should have to pay $200 and get a federal tax stamp for it. Never mind the fact that, as hard as I’ve tried, I can’t find one instance of a crime being committed with a suppressed firearm, outside of movies. Not one. The four horsemen have been busy at the federal level.
There is only one reason for the regulation of suppressors that I can find – if the feds don’t regulate them, they won’t be able to charge $200 for a license for one. Period.
Add to that the fact that, if suppressors were totally unregulated, you could buy them at Bass Pro Shops, and Cabela’s, and even Wal-Mart and Academy. And they would cost a fraction of what they do now, because of all the silly rules.
A similar law requires rifle barrels to be at least sixteen inches long. For some reason. Now, I have a Henry Golden Boy .22 rifle, and my son has a Henry Mare’s Leg pistol, and the two are identical, except the Mare’s Leg has a shorter barrel and stock. But if I cut the stock and barrel down on the Golden Boy, so that it’s a carbon copy of the Mare’s Leg, they’ll put me so far back in the jail basement they’ll have to pipe daylight to me. Splain that one to me, Lucy.
Neither of these laws makes any sense, by any stretch. They only exist because we allow them to, because some people in a room somewhere, who probably never shot a gun in their lives, decided to write some laws. It’s insane.
Jerry, or someone similarly unwilling to suffer fools and their folly, should By George do something about this mess. I may be dumping this on Jerry unfairly, but I don’t know who else to dump it on.
Besides, Jerry doesn’t back off when he’s faced with the incredible ignorance of the bedwetters. He was a delegate to the recent Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida, where the mayor tried to have guns banned from the downtown area during the festivities (which would have violated the Second Amendment). Anna Tinsley wrote in the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram that, when asked if he would be carrying a gun in Tampa, Jerry said, “It’s like a smoke detector. You don’t know when you’ll need it, but you keep fresh batteries in it anyway.”
The mayor, incidentally, was overruled by Florida Governor Rick Scott, who said, “It is unclear how disarming law-abiding citizens would better protect them from the dangers and threats posed by those who would flout the law. It is at just such times that the constitutional right to self-defense is most precious and must be protected from government overreach.”
All I can add to that is ‘amen.’ I would, however, submit that Gov. Scott’s words could be applied, just as correctly, to the issues of suppressors and barrel length.
What we really need is a law regulating stupidity . . .Kendal Hemphill is an outdoor humor columnist and public speaker who needs a hearing aid, because he’s shot too many guns without suppressors. Write to him at PO Box 1600, Mason, Tx 76856 or firstname.lastname@example.org