Raf's Letter to the Editor of the Mineral Wells Index
It seems that Whataburger’s management and others have chosen to tackle one of the salient issues of the day, guns. Although he claimed to defend American’s right to keep and bear arms, he just doesn’t want them to exercise that fundamental right in his restaurants. He says it’s because he’s afraid patrons will be afraid of the guns.
Fine! That’s no skin off my nose, I haven’t eaten in a Whataburger in years. I’m sure the loss of my patronage will make no difference whatsoever to our local store, let alone to the chain as a whole.
On the other hand, I do visit the Palo Pinto General Hospital frequently, and thus, I am inconvenienced by the 30.06 signs they have erected. Perhaps Harris Brooks is similarly frightened of the inanimate objects. What the management of Whataburger and Mr. Brooks have in common is their lack of critical thought on this issue.
When the Concealed Handgun law was passed in Texas, in 1995, several places were listed as places where carrying would not be permitted. As I recall, churches, hospitals and publicly owned facilities were among them.
Today, that is no longer the case. Why did the Texas Legislature elect to remove churches, hospitals and parks from the exemptions to the CHL? It was because in exempting those places from handgun carry, the earlier law was creating islands in our society where citizens could not protect themselves from predators.
If you will recall, the first handgun law was, in part, a response to killings at Luby’s in Killeen, in 1991. You may also recall that then-Gov. Ann Richards vetoed an immediate attempt to permit Texans to protect themselves, but newly elected Gov. George W. Bush signed a similar bill upon being sworn in.
Suzanna Gratia Hupp was present at the Luby’s shootings in which her parents were killed. She had a gun in her car 100 feet away, but could not carry it with her, legally, at that time. If she and perhaps other citizens had been allowed to carry guns, Henard, the murderer, could not have killed 24 people without interference.
One incident prompting the Legislature to remove some of these safe-haven zones where guns were not allowed was the incident in Fort Worth, right here, close by, where Larry Gene Ashbrook murdered seven people and wounded seven others at the Wedgewood Baptist Church. This incident was important because it demonstrated that laws prohibiting the lawful carrying of guns merely create safe shooting galleries for those who don’t obey laws.
Let’s face it, that 30.06 sign won’t keep a crackpot out of PPGH. It will only keep the law-abiding citizens from carrying in the facility. The one thing most likely to keep crackpots from shooting up our hospital, is the knowledge that there may be armed citizens there who would thwart their plans.
The same is true of Whataburger, their sign will not protect them like the fear of retaliation would.
Come on! Citizens of Texas who own CHLs have been investigated by the DPS and found not to be criminals or crazy (our own passion for Crazy Water withstanding). We are the good guys. We are the ones who have spent the money to be investigated, to take the courses, to demonstrate our ability to handle firearms safely and accurately. Those who choose to practice open carry are subject the same careful scrutiny that CHL holders are. We are not the danger! I have been told by law enforcement personnel, that once they’ve determined that a person has a CHL, they know they’re dealing with a responsible citizen.
Harris Brooks did not erect the 30.06 signs when they were first authorized in 1997. I don’t know exactly when those signs appeared at PPGH, but it was at least a decade after the laws changed. What happened that suddenly caused the hospital administrator to spend the money to have those signs made and posted? If there was an incident at the hospital, I’m certainly unaware of it, and the hospital board members I’ve spoken with do not even recall being consulted on the subject.
I call upon Harris Brooks and the management at Whataburger to reconsider their positions on this matter. Mr. Brooks, take down that sign!
Ralph Seibert, Mineral Wells