In Texas, a code rooted in the days of the highwayman recognizes the right of travelers to be armed, and the legislature has repeatedly endorsed that principle, says the New York Times. Police officers and prosecutors, however, saying they retain law enforcement discretion, have continued arresting and bringing cases against motorists found with unlicensed handguns. The conflict has inspired an unlikely alliance between the gun lobby, which has long drawn support from the political right, and civil liberties advocates, long identified with the left, in defense of pistol-packing travelers.
The Texas affiliate of the National Rifle Association has joined the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas and the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition “to spotlight unlawful, unnecessary governmental encroachment on average law-abiding citizens.” By long-established law, Texans can cite “traveling” as a defense to possession of an unlicensed handgun. But while traveling was widely understood to denote a journey of some distance, it was never defined.