By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
Draw, pardner: How many times has this happened to you? You're out doing the grocery shopping, picking up the dry cleaning, etc. You get back to your car and realize you left your lights on. Then suddenly, out of nowhere, the lead starts flying. A crazed gunman has opened fire. You reach for your hip, forgetting momentarily that—damn!—you had to leave your hog leg at home because of a pesky Texas law that doesn't generally let citizens walk about the streets strapped. Don't you just hate that? Isn't that inconvenient?
Oh, and on top of that, your car battery's dead.
What's that you say? You haven't been in a situation lately in which you felt the need to slap iron, and you don't think a return to the Longbranch Saloon is a good idea? Well, la-dee-dah, Mr. Civilized 2008 Person, you must be one of those types who go about blissfully unprepared for life's exigencies: no spare stamps in your desk, no jumper cables in your trunk and no desire to hang a Peacemaker from your belt.
Lucky for the rest of Texas, a group called www.opencarry.org has started an advertising drive and petition effort aimed at persuading state legislators to get with the times—the times being, apparently, 1870—and pass a law allowing Texans to carry unconcealed weapons. Supporters want the law, one of them told The Associate Press, for "the same reason I wear my seatbelt, carry a spare tire and have a working fire extinguisher." Right-o. Because putting out fires, fixing a flat and driving safely are activities in the same class as plugging one of your fellow men in the spleen with a lead slug. Better safe than sorry!
The effort to have Texas join the ranks of "open carry" states is part of what promises to be an entertaining 2009 legislative session, Second Amendment-wise. State Senator Jeff Wentworth is promising to propose a bill that would allow holders of concealed-weapon permits to carry guns on college campuses. As Wentworth noted in his online column in August, under current law, only people 21 and older can obtain concealed-carry permits except for active or honorably discharged members of the military. So under his proposal, Wentworth wrote, there wouldn't be many guns on campus. Professors and seniors, presumably—those students old enough to legally obtain alcohol and who face graduation into a cold, cold job market—would be those most likely to have permits. That could make for some lively Socratic debates about midterm grades, one imagines, which would potentially reduce the number of snot-nosed punks willing to do your job at half the wages.