A woman who was apparently digging into her purse for some papers at the Christus Outpatient Pavilion medical clinic in Beaumont, Texas this week accidentally dropped the purse, which contained a concealed weapon – discharging a bullet that pierced a wall and non-fatally injured a patient in another room. Police officers are now investigating. According to a witness “everyone was sitting in the waiting room and there was a gun shot. A woman dropped her purse down on the counter and it shot through the wall and shot another lady.”
Given that this was in Texas, it might not come as a surprise, but all states issue conceal-permits. Texas, however, has limited restrictions on the issuance of concealed-weapon permits, and is rated number #12 by Guns & Ammo Magazine only because “the fees may set you back more than in some neighboring states.” Otherwise Texas would have easily made into the top 10, restricted only by the fact that six states are what is known as ‘constitutional carry states,’ which allow anyone over the age of 21 to carry a concealed weapon without a permit. Texas does require the person looking to purchase a conceal-carry permit to undergo a background check to make sure they have no criminal record, or history of alcohol abuse, or certain psychological diagnoses. However, there is no requirement to take gun safety training.
We all know that The National Rifle Association (NRA) continues to use its financial and political muscle to obstruct the implementation of moderate and sane gun regulations – such as mandatory background checks and registration – before a gun can be purchased. They claim that ‘if more Americans carried concealed weapons we’d all be safer.’ And they’ve done a great job of convincing Americans of the truth of that claim. As a new Gallup poll shows, “56% of Americans agree with that claim, up from only 27% 10 years ago.” While the shift is surprising, there was the proviso in the question Gallup asked requiring that a person must pass a criminal background check and take a training course on gun safety though as mentioned states like Texas do not require gun-safety courses.
While the police continue to investigate the incident from Monday’s incident at the clinic, we are reminded of the ubiquitous reports of tragedies in which children kill children with guns left around by irresponsible adults – for which almost nobody is ever held responsible. The nearly weekly reports of the loss of life from school shootings – which at the time shocks us -and causes so much devastation to our families. Yet, we continue to refuse as a country to hold our politicians accountable on the issue of gun control. A spokesperson for the clinic said: “Handguns are strictly prohibited on all CHRISTUS Southeast Texas Health System campuses, as safety for our staff and patients is always a top priority.” But given the attitude in Texas toward guns, and the likelihood this woman had a permit to carry a concealed-gun, furthered by the fact that nobody was seriously hurt – it is even more likely that this incident will again be written-off as another unfortunate accident – for which nobody will be held responsible.
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Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.