Following the shooting on the south steps of the Texas State Capitol legislative leaders and media outlets called for heightened security at the Capitol.
Sadly the State Preservation Board over reacted by voting to install metal detectors and X-Ray machines at the Capitol entrances. I always thought it was great how the Capitol was open and easily accessible to the people of Texas. Now with the heightened security I feel that some people will be intimidated and not go into their Capitol to meet with their elected officials and take in the beautiful building.
It also has lots of logistical problems that have not been accounted for. It all ready takes to long to get on the House and Senate observation decks when an important vote is going on because you have to pass through metal detectors, just imagine facing that every day when you are trying to enter the Capitol.
Also it brings up the question of what should the 400,000 Texas CHL holders do? Will they have to pull out their gun and slide it through the X-Ray machine and show the DPS officer their CHL permit? This would most likely be a violation of the CHL law against showing your weapon (even an imprint of it under your jacket) when you are not in a situation where you felt your life and/or property was threatened. To read the CHL laws click here.
I am all for security at the Capitol and know first hand that the DPS officers who work there are the best there are. However I wish that the State Preservation Board had looked at ways of increasing security while still keeping the Capitol easily accessible to the people of Texas.
Thanks to Governor Perry for being the only member of the State Preservation Board that voted against this. The other members that voted for the it are, Lt. Governor David Dewhurst, Speaker of the House Joe Straus, Senator Tommy Williams, Representative Charlie Geren and Charlotte Foster (Citizen Board Member).
The reported detials of the plan call for the public to be only allowed to enter through the North Entrance. The South Entrance would be open to tour groups, and the East and West Entrances would be open to state officials and staff with ID badges.
The only good part of the plan is going to be watching all of the lobbyist run up from South Congress and around to the North Steps to enter.
Here is the article from the Austin American Statesman
By Mike Ward | Tuesday, April 13, 2010, 12:06 PM
The State Preservation Board today approved the installation of metal detectors and X-ray machines at Texas Capitol entrances within the next 45 days, as part of a sweeping security upgrades at the storied landmark.
Gov. Rick Perry cast the lone vote against the plan, saying he thinks it goes too far and will restrict public access too much.
Perry told reporters he thinks there are other ways to protect the public without installing the detectors and restricting access to the statehouse. “I think it will really prohibit the public … I think the public will be disappointed.”
Under the new plan, officials said new metal detectors and X-ray machines will be installed at all four doors of the 1888 statehouse.
It will be the first time in the history of the domed granite edifice that the building has had such restricted entry on a continuing basis.
The public will be required to enter through the north door, the south door will be open to tour groups, and the east and west entrances will be open to state officials and their staff who will have to show special photo ID cards.
Cost of the plan is $3 million.
Preservation Board officials said state Department of Public Safety officials recommended the change, in light of a recent shooting outside the Capitol’s south entrance and increasing security awareness because of worldwide terrorism.