Day: February 5, 2015

Guns versus schools

 

I will give gun rights advocate Kory Watkins credit for one thing. He knows how to get attention in the legislative arena, a not-so-easy accomplishment in a circus-like environment where, believe me, there is plenty of competition, especially this year. But his videotaped diatribe accusing lawmakers of committing “treason” by denying every Tom, Dick and Jane the right to openly carry a handgun reinforces the importance of a strong public education system.

“Going against the Constitution is treason,” Watkins said in his video, before setting off a media frenzy by adding that such an act is “punishable by death.” I suspect the death penalty reference was strictly theatrical, although it may have produced some heart palpitations among legislators, including those who are constantly pandering to the gun crowd.

I am not going to debate the Second Amendment. But even if legislators are violating the Constitution by regulating gun rights – and I am not conceding that they are – they are not committing treason. Any social studies teacher could have told Kory that.

Treason is not simply the act of violating the U.S. Constitution. Treason is the crime of betraying our country, attempting to overthrow the government or aiding and abetting our country’s enemies. You could argue that openly discussing secession – sound familiar? — comes closer to a treasonous act than regulating firearms.

If simply violating the Constitution were treason, many legislators already would be in deep trouble, including, in my opinion, those who voted a few years ago for the voter photo ID law, which has no purpose other than to discourage minority citizens from exercising their constitutional right to vote.

Violating the Texas Constitution isn’t treasonous either, but it certainly can be wrong. As a state district judge has ruled twice in the past two years, this legislative majority is violating the Texas Constitution by inadequately and unfairly funding public education.

Are most legislators attempting to do anything about it? No.

They are spending some time talking about private school vouchers, which also would violate the state constitution and make the funding system worse. And, they are spending a preposterous amount of time worrying about guns and their political standing with gun rights advocates.

If this legislative majority spent half the time trying to draft a real solution to school funding as it does on guns, it might actually accomplish something to benefit – rather than simply enrage or amuse — thousands of Texas families.