|Regardless whether you're for or against gun law legislation, when it comes to Texas, it would be just about as easy to get the Pope out of the Catholic Church as it would to wrench the firearms from the convicted fingers of true-blue Texans who often liken the right to carry a gun with the right of childbirth. Ask most any Texan and they'll tell you owning a gun is "natural".
Oh don't expect to get roiled in a conversation about what is right or what is wrong or whether gun legislation is a good thing or a bad thing or whether or not people are responsible enough to own and use a firearm. This article has nothing to do with right or wrong. Just like the guy who couldn't see the forest for the trees, if you are looking to discuss the finer points for or against gun laws, then you've landed in the wrong place.
Perhaps if you are in favor banning gun ownership you might at least glean from this feature the nature of the beast you're up against in Texas. Banning hand guns in Washington, D.C., after all, makes a little bit of sense when you consider that's where Congress hangs out. And we don't want those boys carrying guns around! But in Texas, taking guns our of the hands of Texans would sort of be like asking Texans not to drink 'sweet tea', or to refrain from standing when they hear the band strike up the "Eyes of Texas". When it comes to taking guns away from Texans, it's like it was put to me bluntly by my Uncle Willis, "It ain't gonna happen." And here's why.
Gun ownership in Texas is a universal phenomena. In fact, there are more gun owners in Texas than other state in the Union. It is estimated that Texans own around 51 million firearms. That's more firearms than owned by the 300 million people that make up the 15 nations of the European Union. In fact, America is the number one gun-owning nation in the world. But Texans possess nearly 20% of all the guns in America. (The U.S. gun count is estimated around 240 million).
Now you do the math. With about 24 million Texans living in the Lone Star State, the average person, including every man, woman and child, owns a little over two guns each. (Hey, maybe that's where the popular saying comes from, you know, "Don't Mess With Texas"!)
All joking aside, Texans are wild about their guns. State statistics show that 147,819 Texans have permits allowing them to carry concealed weapons. And that number is growing. Texans have been permitted to carry concealed weapons since January 1996, so long as they are licensed by the state Department of Public Safety.
But what's it all about? Why the big deal about gun ownership in Texas?
State historian Steven Lindbergh says it all has to do with the real Texas spirit.
"People were told by the Mexican government in the early 19th century they were only allowed to have one rifle to ward off Indian attack or to protect against wild animals. Any Texan worth anything knew you needed more than one gun to defend your home or farm. The last time a government threatened to take away the guns of Texans, there was a revolution, and we all know how that turned out," he said.
And it's true. Texas is a big, big state. Even in modern times, it's not uncommon to see ranch workers openly carrying a gun strapped to their belt. There are snakes and coyotes, mountain lions and bears, bandidos and tax collectors. You never know when you're going to need a good iron strapped to your hip.
As far as gun ownership in an urban setting, there are those that would argue there's more wildlife and danger in town than there is on the ranch, so owning and using a gun if it becomes necessary, is paramount to survival.
Of course, there are plenty that would argue gun ownership leads to increased violence. And that's a hard point to argue. If you carried a gun and someone threatened your life or that of a family member, would you use it to protect your rights? Most Texans would, and that, I suppose, promotes violence. But as most Texans would say, it also ends it, at a critical time when it needs an ending.
But whether right or wrong, against the law or not, taking the guns out of Texas is like asking Alaska to give up winter. It might look good on paper, but it's simply not going to happen anytime soon.