The need exists, but the cure is too narrow.
Three bills have been filed in the House that would remove some of the off-limits areas for some, but not all, people who have a Texas Concealed Handgun License (CHL). The areas involved would depend upon the CHL holder’s job title and duties. The specific bills are not identified in this article, as the focal point is not a particular bill or location, but the concept of removing off-limits areas for some CHL holders while retaining them for all others.
The three bills in question address areas where specific people are more likely to be the victim of a violent attack, so there is merit to the goal of each bill. Similar bills were filed during the 2013 Texas Legislative Session and the rationale given at that time was valid. It still is. The authors of the bills last session were of the opinion that they would rather remove all off-limits locations for all CHLs, but if that bill did not pass (HB3218 in 2013), they wanted their alternative bills to provide relief to the people who arguably are in greater danger in specific locations as a result of their jobs.
While the goals of bills that address specific dangers to specific people in specific areas have a rational basis, the problem with their passage is that it diminishes the chances of passing a comprehensive bill that addresses the safety of all CHLs in Texas. Undoubtedly, most of the 800,000+ Texas CHLs are in greater or lesser danger at given times and locations, so the prudent course is to remove all off-limits areas. While those who would benefit from the narrowly focused bills have legitimate concerns, carving them out form all other CHLs and addressing only their personal safety issues removes their voices from the call for much-needed repeal of all off-limits areas for all CHLs. The tremendous track record Texas CHLs have posted since 1995 is proof that there is no justification to retain any of the off-limits areas that twenty years ago were deemed necessary.
The Representatives who filed the three bills at issue are good, pro-gun, Second Amendment supporters who are trying to address the concerns of constituents who have asked them for help. They should not be faulted for attempting to do so, but the focus needs to be on passing HB308 so that 800,000+ CHLs will benefit.