NUTTY LAWMAKERS, ARMED AND DANGEROUS

After a stint in Texas in 1866, U.S. General Phillip Sheridan declared, "If I owned Texas and Hell, I would rent Texas and live in Hell.”

After a stint in Texas in 1866, U.S. General Phillip Sheridan declared, “If I owned Texas and Hell, I would rent Texas and live in Hell.”

My state has long had image issues, despite it being a great place with great people. A major source of our embarrassment is, of course, our legislature. It has an excuse for its lapses, though, which is that it tends to be led by politicos who suffer a tragic flaw: They’re nuts.

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For example, in the last legislative session, they were so devoted to ideological right-wing loopiness that they left our state in a $27-billion budget hole this session. Thus, our legislators have recently been focused on the most urgent problem facing them. Writing a sound budget for a modern, fast-growing state, you ask? No, no – arming themselves with guns. These are politicians who’re not exactly comfortable with their standing in the community.

Texas already has a concealed handgun law, and many legislators are among the 460,000 of our residents secretly licensed to pack heat. The problem, say GOP senators Jeff Wentworth and Dan Patrick, is that current law prohibits licensed guntoters from taking their weapons into churches, hospitals, bars, sports stadiums, and other venues. That’s fine for the common riff-raff, say those two gunslinging goobers, but not for us big shots – so they sponsored a bill exempting legislators from the ban.

Without debate and with only six dissenters, the senate passed the bill, unleashing even the least-tightly-wrapped of our lawmakers to be armed and dangerous everywhere they go. “Are you kidding me?” asked an incredulous senator when this special-privilege bill first came up. “Is this serious?”

No, it’s the Texas legislature. They got their guns, but they never did pass a sound state budget – not by a long shot.

“Campus guns bill receives new life,” Austin American Statesman, May 10, 2011.

“Bill would let lawmakers carry guns everywhere,” Austin American Statesman, April 12, 2011.

“Senate OKs Concealed Carry for Lawmakers,” www.texastribune.org, May 9, 2011.

“Battling the bastards is about as much fun as you can have with your clothes on.”

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