With all the attention on Boston and Kaufman County, we almost overlooked yesterday’s report by Deanna Boyd on a suspected robber getting shot by CHL carrier in southeast Fort Worth, according to the earliest reports.
It’s a short article — practically what we call a "brief" — but it has sparked rigorous debate on guns, race, politics...
Now state Rep. Jeff Leach, R-Plano, (shown here) wants to give Texans a little more of both.
He has filed the "Texas Gun Ownership Reinforcement Act," a bill to create a new tax-free holiday where consumers won't be charged taxes on guns, ammo or hunting supplies on March 2 -- Texas Independence Day.
It's also viewed as a pro-gun statement as Congress revs up debate over firearms.
But Marsha McCartney thinks it's a bad idea.
"Perhaps they should worry about how to make our community safer, rather than how to sell more guns for the gun lobby," said McCartney, a spokeswoman for the Texas chapter of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. "This is one of those silly bills that gets a lot of attention."
Some 18 years after the Legislature made it legal to carry a concealed handgun in public, Texas now has 585,860 active licenses statewide, according to a Star-Telegram review of Department of Public Safety data.
Harris County, the state's largest, is home to the most licenses, with nearly 90,000.
But Tarrant County, with the third-highest population, now has the second-most active licenses, at 42,114 -- or one for every 49 people.
"The number of people seeking concealed handgun licenses is going to keep growing," said Curtis Van Liew (shown here), who began teaching concealed handgun classes locally in 2010. "Most people say they feel the need to protect themselves now."
The project, a result of the mass school shootings in Newtown, Conn., was accompanied online by maps that have the names and addresses of hundreds of handgun permit holders.
By Wednesday afternoon, the maps had shared about 30,000 times on Facebook and other social media. Many of the commenters expressed outrage.
Roy Clark, a senior scholar at the Poynter Institute, a Florida-based journalism think tank, said publishing the data was "too indiscriminate."
"You get the connotation that somehow there's something essentially wrong with this behavior," he said of the gun permit database. "My predisposition is to support the journalism. I want to be persuaded that this story or this practice has some higher social purpose, but I can't find it."
Misael "Irving" Perla, 24, of Dallas (left) is one of two men named this week in a nine-count federal indictment covering a slew of drug charges.
Specifically, he is accused of providing the drugs believed to have killed Cassidy Seward, 18, of Grapevine. She died Aug. 28 at a Grapevine hospital of "mixed drug toxicity" involving heroin and methamphetamine, according to the Tarrant County medical examiner's office.
The other man, Hugo "Juice" Sanchez, 23, (right) was indicted on one count of possessing a firearm illegally because he is a convicted felon and another count of having a gun while trafficking drugs.
But aside from guns, what else is at the root of the violence that’s becoming more common?
Well, a timeline published Friday by The Associated Press starts at the bottom with the infamous 1966 slayings of 16 people from the clock tower at the University of Texas. The shooter, Charles Whitman, became a household name.
Then several years pass before you have a couple more mass killings: one at a McDonald’s in California, 1984; and then the Killeen Luby’s massacre in 1991.
There are a couple more in 1996 and then — BAM! — in 1999 we get the Columbine High School massacre in Littleton, Colo.
The list grows tremendously after the turn of the century: Virginia Tech in 2007; Fort Hood, 2009; the shooting in Tucson of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and others, 2011; The Aurora, Colo., movie theater last July; and now Friday’s carnage in Connecticut.
And to all this, we ask, why?
Why do we have so many people — most of them young men — who haven’t enough soul to decide right from wrong and act out in violent and unrestrained manners?
But, like most newspaper articles, we had more info than our available space, so we'll share it here.
For example, Thweatt said the so-called "guardian plan" is patterned after the Federal Air Marshal program, in which plain-clothes officers guard airline flights, but passengers are not supposed to know who they are, or that they’re armed.
Likewise, the school district in Harrold does not announce which teachers are "packing."
The program is set up under the same Texas laws that allow school districts to have uniformed police officers on campus, Thweatt said.
Participating teachers, however, must be approved by the school board to conceal weapons on school grounds.
There is also extra training to ensure accurate shooting.
Participants are required to use ammunition that will stop a human but not penetrate walls, Thweatt said.
These measures, he noted, are intended to limit collateral damage.
Still, the strategy draws criticism.
A common challenge, Thweatt said, is the possibility of an angry student, in a fit of passion, wrestling a concealed handgun away from a teacher.
But that’s not an issue, Thweatt said, as long as students don’t know which teachers have guns.
There has not been an incident, and Thweatt doesn’t expect one. In his opinion, declaring a campus "gun-free" is inviting a mass shooting.
"What we know about these people is they know where to go to get a bigger body count," Thweatt said. "I think they’re mostly after infamy and it’s just evil."