Texas Firearms Freedom educates on testifying for gun legislation

Rajya Atluri

Texas Firearms Freedom, a gun advocacy organization, educated Austin residents Monday on the proper ways to testify during the 85th Legislative session to protect Second Amendment rights.

Founder and director Rachel Malone presented material focusing on specific steps citizens can take to advocate, including attending committee hearings and closely tracking bills. For students looking to advocate for gun rights, Malone said she has three important pieces of advice.

“Number one: Come to a committee hearing,” Malone said. “That’s when you are invited to give your opinion on public record to the Legislature.”

Malone said students should do whatever they need to do to be at these hearings, whether that requires taking off from school or losing study time.

“If this is important to you, it’s worth it,” Malone said.

The second best thing to do is to call representatives, Malone said. 

“Call your own right now and ask them what bill or bills you want them to co-author,” Malone said. “Don’t just settle for saying they support it — make them co-author it. Also, be calling the committee chairman, call the committee members and make sure they’re not stalling and refusing to bring it up for hearing.” 

Lastly, students should remember to stay connected in supporting organizations to know when the hearings take place. 

Some important pieces of legislation include bills related to Constitutional Carry, which would allow Texans to carry firearms in the state with or without a handgun permit, Malone said.

The event was held at Central Texas Gun Works, which sells firearms and teaches classes on guns. Kent Pattson, an instructor at Central Texas Gun Works, said he’s seen members of the UT community, both faculty and students, at these classes, especially since campus carry went into effect last semester.

“Tons of staff and professors have come through,” Pattson said. “They take our basic firearms course, our basic pistols course and they take the license to carry course.”

Joseph Longhurst said he attended the event to get an understanding about what he might expect if he showed up for a legislative session where he could give testimony.

“I’ve never done that before, and the idea of going into it cold turkey is a little bit daunting,” Longhurst said. “I thought that coming here tonight would be a good primer.”