Monday, July 19, 2010

Concealed Carry Gets You The Fast Lane In Austin

By The Associated Press In Austin ~ Everyone from lobbyists to lawyers and journalists are rushing to get permits to carry guns inside the Texas Capitol, where legislators already often tote pistols in boots and purses or stow them away inside their desks.

In this June 3, 2010, photo a sign for those with concealed handgun licensees (CHL) is seen as people pass through one of four new metal detectors at the Texas Capitol in Austin. A shooting incident in January outside the capitol prompted lawmakers to order metal detectors at public entrances and the creation of a separate lane for CHL holders to get through them. Capitol insiders are now signing up in droves for the course that will get them a license now known as the express pass. (AP Photo/American Statesman, Ricardo B. Brazziell)

A unique loophole in a new security procedure means a gun permit is like a special-access pass into the domed building, allowing people who are certified to carry a gun to bypass lines at the metal detectors that were set up after a shooting incident earlier this year.

"Nobody wants to be the one standing in line behind three hundred kids wearing the same colored T-shirt," said University of Texas political scientist Jim Henson. "If you're trying to get in and out really quick and there's going to be choke points, well, people don't want to have to deal with that."

There's now a frenzy for folks to get trained and licensed to carry a firearm, especially before the legislative session begins in January. It's not required that people have a gun to enter the Capitol through the express lane. Merely holding a valid permit, and presenting it at the entrance, will get them expedited entry.

"Everybody is doing it or is planning to do it," said lobbyist Bill Miller, who has taken the required training and is waiting for his license to arrive in the mail.

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