I am honoring our editor’s request to respond to the Opinion page’s recent Outside View; “Texas needs to learn from deadly shooting on set.”

It recounts the killing of Halyna Hutchins by Alec Baldwin on a motion picture set in New Mexico. I have excerpted portions of the Houston Chronicle column and will address them separately where bracketed. 

Ron Frisk is a guest columnist and a Comal County resident.

Recommended for you

(9) comments

Jack McKinney

“What matters is whomever is holding a firearm is the person responsible for any harm it causes.” Hello, Kyle Rittenhouse…

RON FRISK

Not only Kyle Rittenhouse - it applies to everybody.

"What matters is whomever is holding a firearm is the person responsible for any harm it causes. Gun owners know that there is a lawyer attached to every round fired."

Kyle Rittenhouse was given the opportunity to be tried by twelve of his peers under the presumption of innocence until proven guilty. Mr. Baldwin will be afforded the same opportunity. Of course the cases are starkly different. Mr. Rittenhouse claimed self-defense. Mr. Baldwin pointed a weapon at someone and without provocation, pulled the trigger. For reasons unknown, he has not yet been charged with a crime.

Whatever the charges, each is guaranteed due process under the law by our Constitution. Mr. Rittenhouse has been acquitted of all charges based on evidence presented in his defense. Mr. Baldwin's fate will be held in the hands of twelve of his peers as well. He will also present his defense.

Regardless of the verdicts, our justice system is expected to treat all citizens the same. "Gun owners know that there is a lawyer attached to every round fired," applies to anyone who causes harm with a firearm. While circumstances vary, the process remains the same. A jury will look at all the evidence and make its decision according to the facts of the case. They will decide who is guilty and who is innocent. Justice plays out in a court of law, not in prime time by talking heads.

Jim Sohan

Mr Fisk and Mr Johnson have stated either indirectly or directly that the Houston Chronicle column is full of falsehoods, misleading, and the left will lie about facts in order to get their way. Unfortunately, when I read Mr Fisk’s rebuttal/response I see the same type of things.

“Perfunctory” federal background checks? Yes, they are “perfunctory”. If the check isn’t completed within a specific amount of time, you’re allowed to purchase a gun. Sales between private parties are not subject to a background check. And, so many background checks are being accomplished by a small number of individuals, I have to question how thorough they can actually be.

As to where you can carry, well the facts are you can basically carry anywhere, just read the list of where you’re not allowed to carry a handgun and the order of magnitude of where you can actually carry is pretty large and clear.

If you think gun laws aren’t more relaxed than they were in the “real Wild West” then please show us the facts or the thought process that backup your conclusion that this is not true. Otherwise, it’s just an opinion.

What point are you trying to make by stating the 7th, 8th and 9th largest states have a higher per-capita death rate than Texas? Is this something we should aspire to? The bottomline is far too many people die because of a firearm and arguably the new Texas law probably makes it likely that number will go up. Of course we won’t know that until it’s too late.

How does Mr Johnson come to the conclusion “that the current law was a knee jerk response to the liberal lies about firearm owners and users along with the very unnecessary laws in other states?” I can see his argument if the State had actually done something to tighten up the laws.

My last question is to Chris Lykins. If you did ask Mr Fisk to respond to the Houston Chronicle’s editorial, couldn't you have made sure it was a fact based rebuttal and not just an opinion piece. He could have simply wrote an opinion piece voicing his views, even if his facts are wrong, but by saying he’s done it at the Herald Zeitung Editor’s request, it carries more weight and an air or truth it does not deserve.

I’m a gun owner, I believe in the 2nd Amendment, and I support reasonable gun controls, such as expanded background checks. Mr Fisk and Mr Johnson’s comments are just more of the fear mongering intended to prevent any type of reasonable gun control legislation to ever become law.

Chris Lykins Staff
Chris Lykins

Jim,

I didn't ask him personally to respond, but the editorial box that runs with the column asked people to respond. It's a design element designed to encourage people to respond by writing, rather than calling me on the phone to tell me that they're mad about what someone else wrote

Jim Sohan

👍 Sounds good! Appreciate you responding. Thanks again for all your hard work running the paper.

RON FRISK

Hi Jim, I apologize for taking so long to respond to your comments. It wasn't intentional, as a matter of fact I welcome your perspective regarding my column.

"Mr Fisk and Mr Johnson have stated either indirectly or directly that the Houston Chronicle column is full of falsehoods, misleading, and the left will lie about facts in order to get their way. Unfortunately, when I read Mr Fisk’s rebuttal/response I see the same type of things."

Specifically; What falsehoods? What was misleading? What facts caused you to call me a liar?

“Perfunctory” federal background checks? Yes, they are “perfunctory”. If the check isn’t completed within a specific amount of time, you’re allowed to purchase a gun. Sales between private parties are not subject to a background check. And, so many background checks are being accomplished by a small number of individuals, I have to question how thorough they can actually be."

Which federal background check system are you talking about? Are you talking about FBI National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS)?

Did you know that the NICS is customarily available by phone 17 hours a day, seven days a week, including holidays (except for Christmas?) The NICS E-Check (electronic) is available 24/7.

Texas is one of 30 states that the NICS offers full service to. Let me answer your question "how thorough" the NICS background check can be:

When a person tries to buy a firearm, the seller, known as a Federal Firearms Licensee (FFL), contacts NICS electronically or by phone. The prospective buyer fills out the ATF form, and the FFL relays that information to the NICS. The NICS staff performs a background check on the buyer. That background check verifies the buyer does not have a criminal record or isn't otherwise ineligible to purchase or own a firearm. Since launching in 1998, more than 300 million checks have been done, leading to more than 1.5 million denials.

It doesn't seem to me that the federal government is short-handed and unable to do their job.

The NICS provides full service to the FFLs in 30 states, five U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia. The NICS provides partial service to seven states. The remaining 13 states perform their own checks through the NICS.

Are you saying that a Federal Firearms Licensee would sell a gun to anyone, under any circumstances, without a background check? What is the "specific amount of time" you are referencing as they will sell to anyone regardless of who they are without a background check?

Have you ever gone to a gun show? Have you purchased a firearm from a gun show? Where did you purchase your firearm? Every legitimate retail gun store, pawn shop or firearms dealer are FFL. Call around and ask someone, anyone, "If the check isn’t completed within a specific amount of time, you’re allowed to purchase a gun." You will realize that what you state as fact is the worst kind of misinformation. Please explain to me the gun show "loophole" as you see it so we can have a discussion.

Sellers at gun shows are all background checked even though they were previously securitized if they received their License To Carry (LTC.) You just don't walk into a gun show and set up a table to sell firearms. Do you think there may be FBI and ATF agents in the gun show crowd to see that federal law is obeyed? The penalty for an FFL selling outside the federal requirements to hold their license is subject to criminal prosecution, and can be sentenced to up to five years in prison, fined up to $250,000, or both.

Firearms sales between individuals do not require a background check. That probably follows the logic that many criminals do just that or steal firearms from legal gun owners. At some point reasonable gun law proponents have to recognize that most criminals are not 'reasonable' or law-abiding.

Individual transactions do have legal citation to adhere to: Texas Penal Code § 46.06:

(a) A person commits an offense if the person:

(1) sells, rents, leases, loans, or gives a handgun to any person knowing that the person to whom the handgun is to be delivered intends to use it unlawfully or in the commission of an unlawful act;

(2) intentionally or knowingly sells, rents, leases, or gives or offers to sell, rent, lease, or give to any child younger than 18 years of age any firearm, club, or location-restricted knife;

(3) intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly sells a firearm or ammunition for a firearm to any person who is intoxicated;

(4) knowingly sells a firearm or ammunition for a firearm to any person who has been convicted of a felony before the fifth anniversary of the later of the following dates:

(A) the person's release from confinement following conviction of the felony; or

(B) the person's release from supervision under community supervision, parole, or mandatory supervision following conviction of the felony;

(5) sells, rents, leases, loans, or gives a handgun to any person knowing that an active protective order is directed to the person to whom the handgun is to be delivered;  or

(6) knowingly purchases, rents, leases, or receives as a loan or gift from another a handgun while an active protective order is directed to the actor.

(b) In this section:

(1) “Intoxicated” means substantial impairment of mental or physical capacity resulting from introduction of any substance into the body.

(2) “Active protective order” means a protective order issued under Title 4, Family Code, that is in effect.  The term does not include a temporary protective order issued before the court holds a hearing on the matter.

(c) It is an affirmative defense to prosecution under Subsection (a)(2) that the transfer was to a minor whose parent or the person having legal custody of the minor had given written permission for the sale or, if the transfer was other than a sale, the parent or person having legal custody had given effective consent.

(d) An offense under this section is a Class A misdemeanor, except that an offense under Subsection (a)(2) is a state jail felony if the weapon that is the subject of the offense is a handgun.

This may help you understand the current protocol for buying firearms:

The federal Gun Control Act (GCA) requires that persons who are engaged in the business of dealing in firearms be licensed by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). Federal firearms licensees (FFL) are critical partners in promoting public safety because among other things‒they help keep firearms out of the hands of prohibited persons by running background checks on potential firearms purchasers, ensure that crime guns can be traced back to their first retail purchaser by keeping records of transactions, and facilitate safe storage of firearms by providing child safety locks with every transferred handgun and having secure gun storage or safety locks available any place where they sell firearms. A person who willfully engages in the business of dealing in firearms without the required license is subject to criminal prosecution, and can be sentenced to up to five years in prison, fined up to $250,000, or both.

"As to where you can carry, well the facts are you can basically carry anywhere,"

Not necessarily. You do know that private business can determine whether they will allow firearms on their premises. All they have to do is post Texas Penal Codes 30.06 and 30.07. This allows for preventing a gun owner from carrying "anywhere," and under Texas law, you cannot carry a firearm into a bar. Are you aware of federal law that restricts where an armed person may go? It's very specific and easy to find.

"If you think gun laws aren’t more relaxed than they were in the “real Wild West” then please show us the facts or the thought process that backup your conclusion that this is not true. Otherwise, it’s just an opinion."

Of course, it's an opinion as is much of the first part of my original column. But opinions without facts are not easily defended so I choose to buttress my opinion with fact. So, let's take a look at gun laws of the 'real wild west.' The federal government was reluctant to providing policing as the settlers moved westward. They chose to let the states and territories write and enforce their own laws. That was practical and worked for everybody. Most towns would require anyone coming into town to deliver their firearms to the local law enforcement authority. Owners could redeem their firearms with a token when they left town. This was SOP. So, what's different now? Wild West gun control was actually gun confiscation, albeit temporary, which helped keep the peace. The space between towns where you could buy a bath, a steak and a beer could be a considerable distance apart. I would have given them my horse and saddle if they required it. The fact that there was no federal firearms background check in the old west, in and and of itself, renders the gun laws comparison illogical. But, that's no longer the case. Cruising down I-35 to New Braunfels with a stop to hand over guns is problematic. Just stop in Kyle or San Marcos if they had different 'gun laws.' Today's gun laws are more workable on a registration and site-specific basis. Again, for this to totally be effective would require criminals to abide by the same laws as the rest of us do. That's going to be a problem for them.

"What point are you trying to make by stating the 7th, 8th and 9th largest states have a higher per-capita death rate than Texas? Is this something we should aspire to? The bottomline is far too many people die because of a firearm and arguably the new Texas law probably makes it likely that number will go up. Of course, we won’t know that until it’s too late."

You probably missed the Chronicle's journalistic sleight of hand making the statement, "Mortality data from 2019, the most recent year for which the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported, shows that even on a per-capita basis, gunshots kill more Texans each year than in America's other largest states, including California, Pennsylvania, Illinois, and New York…"

The Chronicle chose to truncate the facts to support this statement. I used the Top 10 states by population and added the states that invalidated their declaration "gunshots kill more Texans each year than in America's other largest states, including California, Pennsylvania, Illinois, and New York…"

The Chronicle intentionally stopped listing states so they could make the untrue claim that gunshots kill more Texans each year than any of our largest states. This is dishonest reporting, even for the Chronicle. They could have just said in "six of our largest states," but they wanted to imply ALL of the largest states. They intentionally misrepresented the fact that three other large states had higher per-capita deaths in order to support their statement. Nothing more complicated than that. Look it up.

You asked if Texas should aspire to having the highest per-capita death rate. I'm not sure if you were serious or not but for the record, I wish no one harm or death by firearm.

You argue that the passing of constitutional carry makes it likely that number (of deaths) will go up. On what basis is your reasoning? I can recall that the streets would run red with the blood of innocent victims when LTC passed in Texas. There was bound to be some deaths as criminals now faced legally-armed citizens who could and should, shoot back in self-defense.

That sounds like you are the one fear-mongering, yet you accuse me of being a fear-monger. On what basis do you make your charge against me?

"My last question is to Chris Lykins. If you did ask Mr Fisk to respond to the Houston Chronicle’s editorial, couldn't you have made sure it was a fact based rebuttal and not just an opinion piece. He could have simply wrote an opinion piece voicing his views, even if his facts are wrong, but by saying he’s done it at the Herald Zeitung Editor’s request, it carries more weight and an air or truth it does not deserve."

You certainly disrespected someone I hold in high esteem. Why did you jump the gun (no pun intended) and go after Chris? Anyone capable of reading the Chronicle article also saw: "Do you disagree with this Outside perspective? Write a letter." Again, share with me the flaws in my 'fact-deficient rebuttal.'

You accuse Chris of showing favor to me therefore giving more weight to what I write as well as "an air of truth it does not deserve." That's an insulting misrepresentation of how well he does his job of encouraging balanced civil discourse. Perhaps after reading my short responses to your comments, you can accept my views as well as the facts.

If you would be willing to submit your rebuttal to my column to Chris, I will also send him my responses. This way we can depart the low-audience crowd of a chat room and share our perspectives with all of the readership. If you change any of your comments, let me know so I can address them before I send mine to Chris. I'll wait to hear back from you.

Blessings, Ron

Jim Sohan

Ron: I really thought about leaving this alone, but your response actually proves the point I was trying to make. Nothing like taking a fire hose to something such that one can’t see the forest through the trees. You throw out a large number of facts in an effort to give your opinion an air of legitimacy, whether those facts are applicable to the discussion or not. For example, in your response you spend a lot of time discussing FFLs and the law. I never mentioned FFLs, but what a great way to blur the picture. In any case, let me say a few things when it comes to FFLs. I’ve purchased and own a number of guns. I’ve known and been friends with a number of FFLs. Every FFL I’ve ever dealt with I’ve found to be professional, thorough, know the law like the back of their hand and would never do anything to jeopardize their license. So no, I’m not implying FFLs would sell a gun to anyone. Every FFL I've known has expressed a number of complaints about shortcomings in the background check system. The lack of manning, databases that are not accurate or up-to-date, an unrealistic timeframe for background checks to be accomplished, etc., etc. As you stated, normally the NCIS background check is almost instantaneous. However, if something is flagged, that requires further investigation, they’re only allowed 3 days to complete that additional investigation. If it is not completed in 3 days, the sale is allowed to go through. I’m not concerned about the honest citizen, who is probably going to be approved instantaneously, I’m concerned about the one who requires further investigation. How many of them should not be able to purchase a firearm, but are able to do so because the background check timed out. I’ve also gone to numerous guns shows and I have no qualms about most dealers; however, Texas does not currently require background checks for firearms sold or traded at gun shows, by private individuals or unlicensed vendors. As you pointed out, there’s a long list of laws applying to the sale of firearms, but in reality the laws only apply to those who follow them. There is no mechanism to ensure even minimum adherence to the law for sales that don’t go through a FFL. So, you may not agree that background checks are perfunctory, but in the big picture they are. Background checks can be strengthened and strengthening them is supported by a majority of Americans. I think this is enough to make my point, so I’ll just leave things there.

RON FRISK

I appreciate your thoughts Jim. I'll stand down as well. Blessings.

Richard Johnson

I absolutely agree. I find it consistent that those on the left make up statistics, or use out dated statistics to strike emotional cords. (Yes, they lie, flat out lie.) This is done on everything they "believe in". I also agree that it is troublesome to me that the concealed carry law stopped requiring actual training in the responsibilities of concealed carry and background check, along with demonstration of skills necessary to actually aim and fire your concealed carry firearm. I came here from Washington State, where I had a concealed carry permit. There they only required a background check and fingerprint. That surprised me when I applied for the permit. Even though Texas recognized that permit, I applied and completed the necessary training here. I thought it was very appropriate, and endorse those requirements. I do believe that the current law was a knee jerk response to the liberal lies about firearm owners and users along with the very unnecessary laws in other states. But, so far, it has not been shown to have made any real difference here.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.