Smitherman Changes Railroad Commission Firearms Policy

11/08/2011

AUSTIN –– Railroad Commissioner Barry Smitherman proposed a policy change today that will allow RRC employees who are in full compliance with the state’s Concealed Handgun License (CHL) laws to carry firearms while they are conducting Commission business.

Commissioner Smitherman said, “During the normal course of performing their jobs, RRC employees often work alone in remote and desolate areas of the state where they may encounter criminals or dangerous wild animals.  The least we can do is allow them to exercise their legal right to carry firearms in accordance with state law.”

“Upon learning that RRC policy explicitly prohibited CHL holders carrying their firearms, I turned to my friend Jerry Patterson at the General Land Office, and crafted a policy to use at the Railroad Commission based on the GLO’s successful program, and today I asked my fellow Commissioners to change our policy to this new standard,” Smitherman concluded.  “I appreciate the support of Chairman Jones and Commissioner Porter to make this change.”

The Railroad Commission’s new policy should allow employees who hold CHLs to carry their personal firearm while on state property and while in state vehicles.  Additionally, the policy should also allow licensed peace officers, security guards, and persons complying with Texas Penal Code 46.02 to carry their firearms on state and personal property.

“To be clear, this is not the Wild West – Railroad Commission employees with a CHL will have to abide by all statutes applicable to CHL holders.  Concealed handgun means just that: concealed,” said Smitherman.

“Prohibiting RRC employees from exercising their right to carry a firearm in compliance with state and federal law is bad public policy.  Taking a stand that RRC employees can exercise their Second Amendment rights is simply the right thing to do.  As we develop this new policy it is my hope that other state agencies will follow suit,” Smitherman concluded.

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Barry Smitherman is a fourth generation Texan appointed by Gov. Rick Perry to the Railroad Commission of Texas on July 8, 2011. Before serving at the Railroad Commission, Smitherman served on the Public Utility Commission for seven years, four of those as Chairman. In addition, he is a past ex-officio board member of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT). He currently serves on the Department of Energy’s Electricity Advisory Committee (EAC) and is a member of the State Bar of Texas. He also serves as Vice Chairman of the Governor’s Advisory panel on Federal Environmental Regulation and is a member of the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission (IOGCC), the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissions (NARUC) Board of Directors, and the Committee on Energy Resources and the Environment (ERE).