Laws change in Texas, Boerne

It’s 2016…time to put away your phones and get out your guns!

The Boerne City Council has banned smartphone use while driving inside city limits, and the Texas Legislature has permitted the visible carrying of handguns in most public places.

Not since 1871 have Texans been allowed to publicly holster their firearms.

Surprisingly, Texas was one of only six states that didn’t allow open carry when it passed the law. The other five states included such left-leaning bastions as California, New York and Illinois.

The Legislature allowed business owners to choose whether to allow exposed guns on their properties. The results have run the gamut.

Whataburger decided to ban open carry in its restaurants, while Brooks’ Place Barbecue in Houston is giving a 25% discount for baring arms.

A key rationale for the law change was public safety. According to the law’s proponents bad guys will less likely commit gun violence if they see more good guys with guns.

My sense is a bad actor is going to be deterred by a law-abiding citizen regardless of whether a weapon is exposed.

I’m reminded of a Margaret Thatcher quote: “Being powerful is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren’t.” A possible corollary: Being intimidating is like being a lady. If you have to show people you are, you aren’t.

Nevertheless, if open carry works in the other ninety per cent of the country, Texas should not stay in the liberal-leaning minority. The right to bear arms is constitutionally enshrined, after all.

The right to drive, however, is not. It is a privilege, according to the Boerne City Council members who followed the City of San Antonio in prohibiting the use of portable electronic devices while driving.

My free market conservatism flinched when I heard the news.

Many reasonable people think distracted driving is a legitimate problem, and there is precedent in Boerne. The city council banned cell phones in school zones a few years ago. It seems logical, then, that if it’s bad there, it’s bad everywhere.

I keep asking my friends in the auto body shop business if their numbers are up due to a presumed increase in distracted driving. They insist they are no busier now than in the age of bag phones and pagers.

Perhaps the safety features of modern vehicles (e.g., auto-braking sensors) are mitigating the impact.

Distracted driving foes say a “hands-free” device is the solution. Scarily, I’ve probably had more near misses trying to get my hands-free device to work than I ever have using my phone outright.

Two interesting notes about the new ordinance: (1) non-technological forms of distracted driving such as consuming Whoppers and Big Gulps or reading paperbacks are not addressed; and (2) law enforcement personnel are exempt.

It’s at least a small irony that the law enforcement personnel set to enforce the electronic device ban have large computer monitors staring them in the face.

One might conclude from this that human beings, when provided the right training, can use technology safely and responsibly within a motorized vehicle. Perhaps an “open use electronic device permit” is in our future?

Until then, keep your guns revealed and your phones concealed in route to a happy and safe new year!

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2 Responses to “Laws change in Texas, Boerne”

  1. 1 Greg Jones January 7, 2016 at 21:44

    Love it! Great writing KT!

    Sent from my iPhone


  2. 2 jessestroup January 7, 2016 at 21:49

    I had to read this article slowly. I laughed several times but my best laugh was your great ending.  I know this, I don’t want my grands shot or run over or any of my loved ones.Liked it,Jesse  Jesse R. Stroup Director of Spiritual Care Lifeline Chaplaincy 1926 Chattanooga Pl. #B Dallas, TX 75235

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