Texas, Guns and Zoos: It's the law?

Reading is an amazing way to spend some quality time. The right words can take you to places that defy description and help you meet unusual people.

Just today I read such a piece. It took me to the mystical land of Texas. According to the Texas State Historical Association, the word "texas" has its roots in an East Texas Indian language meaning "friend or ally." Or perhaps friendly friend or friendly ally.

The article was in the Houston Chronicle and was about a normally joyous, friendly, family-oriented, fun and educational place known as the Houston Zoo. A place where hundreds of thousands of kids pass through the zoo's gates every year. A place the zoo has decided that guns and all those kids would be not be a safe mix. So the zoo posted signs declaring the zoo to be a haven where kids and families and all manner of visitors are welcome. But for safety reasons, please leave your guns home.

Hold the smiles. That didn't sit well with Texas lawyer T. Edwin Walker. According to Walker, this is a clear violation of Texas Government Code §411.209. A sort of all guns all the time almost any place kind of law.

One of Edwin's passions seems to be fighting to maintain a Texan's (friendly) gun rights. Edwin works with an organization known as the Texas Law Shield Firearms Program. Oh -- fun fact about Edwin and Texas Law Shield: they are defendants in a Texas court case involving barratry. I had no idea what barratry was so I looked it up: "Vexatious litigation or incitement to it."

I still had no idea what that meant so I did further reading. According to Texas Lawyer, "the plaintiffs allege that most concealed handgun license classes in Texas include a 'pitch' by a salesperson for Texas Law Shield, who encourages students to sign on to Texas Law Shield at a cost of about $130 a year. In return, so the sales pitch goes, clients will receive a pre-existing attorney-client relationship, legal advice regarding gun laws, and legal representation in the event the client is civilly sued or criminally charged as a result of using a firearms." Back to the zoo.

Edwin, charging forth on his large caliber steed, propelled, perhaps, by his love of the NRA forced the zoo to take down the signage.

I personally am bewildered why someone would get a brain boil about keeping guns out of places where some 200,000 kids gather every year.

So I called the Texas State Attorney General's office. I got his assistant, a woman named Pat. She didn't give her last name.

I asked, "Pat, why is it so critical that you force the zoo to allow guns in? With so many kids around isn't that dangerous?" Pat answered me, "Because it's the law." End of conversation. I was underwhelmed by Pat's response so I did still more reading. Get this -- the same kinds of brilliant Texas minds that think guns in zoos with kids is a totally fabulous idea, passed a law that you can be charged with a felony if you own 6 dildos. But guns, hey, bring'em on.

How about the Texas geniuses who passed a law that requires would-be criminals to give their victims a full 24 hours notice, written or verbally and to mansplain the exact nature of the impending crime.

Or the one that says you need a permit to carry or drink beer in a park. But guns, hey, bring'em on.

And one of my favorites is in the town that is home to the Houston Zoo, apparently you can't buy beer after midnight on a Sunday, but you can buy it on Monday. But guns, hey, bring'em on.

After my deeply disturbing conversation with Pat, I felt terribly sad. So I did yet more reading. Apparently Edwin has had the Dallas Zoo in his gun sight as well. He's quoted in the Houston Press, "I guarantee there is no license holder who is going to go to the zoo in anticipation of shooting a giraffe in front of a bunch of school children."

Really? And how exactly does he know this? Does Edwin have mystical powers that allow him to see into the future? To read every gun-toter's mind?

Edwin "guarantees" nobody's going there with the intention of shooting a giraffe. Maybe. I'm a lot more bothered about someone bursting into a psychotic flame wanting to "settle a score," maybe lay some assault rifle shock and awe on some Muslims or Jews or Blacks or Latinos. That never happens does it? And the giraffe would be just collateral damage.

Or maybe some kind of road rage would erupt in gunfire because someone else cut in line for some popcorn. Or a kid gets shot. Or kids. That's what I'm worried about. Edwin and Texas Shield Law apparently not so much. Who's going to shield kids from them? That's something we all need to be worried about.

By the way, the Houston Zoo has since put the no gun signs back up. And the Dallas Zoo never took them down. They're both facing lawsuits.

Standing O for the zoos and all the kids who go there. Let's work together to stop this madness for the sake of kids in zoos and everywhere else.