The gun debate became front and center last week when President Obama announced his executive actions on gun violence. At the same time, Texas began allowing the open carry of handguns.
Last week in the Friday Conversation, we heard from C.J. Grisham, the head of Open Carry Texas. That group helped convince the Texas Legislature to allow open carry. The discussion on guns continues with Andrea Brauer, the executive director of Texas Gun Sense. Her group promotes what it calls “sensible gun reform.”
Interview Highlights: Andrea Brauer …
… On the notion that gun reform means taking away guns from Americans:
“Unfortunately, people hear the rhetoric of the NRA, where they say, ‘this is the first step in people taking away your rights.’ But the reality is, and the facts are…any law abiding citizen will have no barriers to getting a gun. [Background checks] won’t make it any more difficult to get a gun. They’ll go to the gun store, fill out their instant criminal background check form and 15 minutes later, they’ll walk out with a gun. I understand the concern, but it’s not grounded in reality and grounded in fact.”
… On arming teachers to prevent future tragedies like Sandy Hook:
“I think [C.J. Grisham’s] comment is offensive and obviously completely untrue that ‘Obama’s policies creates dead kids.’ That’s so extreme and so unnecessary. The truth is, state law governs where guns can be carried, just like Texas just passed a campus carry law that allows people to take handguns into classrooms – most states don’t have that. ...
"Most people don’t have a [handgun] license, and certainly females are a minority of license owners, and then for the teacher to have had the chance to run to her purse, get that weapon and defend herself and her children in that moment is unlikely and realistic. I would also say that her bringing that weapon into the classroom, the higher-risk situation is that one of her students would have gotten the gun. That’s a much more likely scenario. Kids are curious, and this happens all the time in our country.”
…On guns and suicide:
“Many people don’t know that most of the gun deaths in this country are suicides. Most gun people will say, ‘well, we shouldn’t count that in the numbers.’ I think we should because the fact is, if those folks that have mental health issues or crises didn’t have access to a weapon, then they wouldn’t have done what they did.”
… On the toughest part about promoting gun reform in a pro-gun state:
“The myths that are out there that are simply untrue. The things we get called on our Facebook page: that ‘I hate freedom, I want to take everyone’s guns away and I don’t care about rights and I’m just anti-Second Amendment’ and that’s not the reality of the things we’re doing and the things we’re talking about. So the extremism and sometimes the inability to even engage in a dialogue with somebody that is so grounded in their views, so that’s frustrating – the unwillingness of some people to come to the table.”
Andrea Brauer is the executive director of Texas Gun Sense. You can listen to KERA’s previous interview with C.J. Grisham, the president of Open Carry Texas.