"It's okay, he's with us."
A lot of people don't know that, until 1995, Texas had a rather stiff law against carrying pistols. Oh, long guns were okay, but to carry a handgun within one's scope of reach, one had better have been engaged in or en route to or returning from a lawful sporting activity, or had to be a cop or military, or, strangely, had to be "traveling."
Traveling was not defined in the Texas Penal Code. One judge would choose to interpret it as crossing county lines. Another would say that it was crossing three county lines. Still another would say that it was crossing three counties, with intent to stay the night. All the while, the charge of Unlawful Carrying Of A Weapon (or "UCW") bore a Class B, and later a Class A (up to one year in jail!) penalty.
There was no such thing as a license to carry a pistol in public, concealed or otherwise. That didn't come until 1995.*
But throughout the nation, Texas had a reputation for being a bastion of the gun-toters. And our gun culture was in fact quite strong.
How does one resolve this? No one could legally carry?!?
Remember that "Traveling" exemption? It's here, at 46.15(b)(2). It wasn't until September 1, 2007 (12 years after concealed carry was adopted in Texas) that we finally changed the law to permit one to carry a concealed weapon while operating a vehicle, regardless of the distance one went. A couple of years before, the Texas Attorney General Greg Abbot had surprised many by issuing an opinion that Travelling should be regarded as any legal transportation by a motor vehicle by a person not a member of a street gang, who is carrying concealed and not committing a crime greater than a Class C misdemeanor. The new law basically adopted that opinion, built right into Sec. 46.02. (Making the Nonapplicability statute kind of redundant, actually.)
There's nothing like a little ambiguity in the law, to see that it's applied differently to different people. I assure you that, in the
Because they were white.
Or belonged to the officer's church.
Or a coach of the boys' baseball team.
But mostly, white.
Selective enforcement is a dirty way to apply a law, and friends, I'm afraid Texas had it pretty well institutionalized. I'm not proud of that era in Texas history, which went way back to the 19th century:
(Click to embiggen, and see what we passed in 1889. )
See, the law was applied to "those people," while the swarthier races, or even just those whom the officer didn't care for would be charged.
So think about how it would have gone down if Ice T, a black gun rights advocate, or Wayne LaPierre, a white gun rights advocate, had appeared on television, committing a felony possession of a high-capacity magazine.
so let's let him go.
He didn't mean nothin'.
*And the predictions were dire. "Blood in the streets!" "Armed showdowns over traffic disputes!" were forecast. Even as a cop, I've never (not once!) seen such, in over a dozen years in law enforcement.