“Whiskey is for drinking; water is for fighting over.” — old Texas saying
There is no waiting period to buy a handgun in Texas. If your point-of-sale computer background check turns up clean, you can buy a .45 or a 9mm with ammo to go while you’re still angry enough to go out and shoot the sumbitch. Here in Dallas, however, you may have to drive a mile or two to get from one of the city’s dry districts to a wet one in order to get liquored up properly before your shooting spree.
As explained by fellow Dallas resident Jacob Sullum, the city’s crazy quilt (see below) of wet and dry districts dates back to earlier Justice of the Peace precincts, giving some real teeth to the notion of local rule, I suppose. (For that matter, don’t get me wrong. I approve of Texas gun laws.)
Worse yet, it’s not just wet or dry. Some districts permit package beer and wine sales only. Some permit beverages to be served in restaurants. Others are completely “wet” while still others are completely “dry.” Except that they’re not. Restaurants are permitted to offer their patrons “private club memberships” (wink, wink) and then sell their “members” liquor by the drink.
However bewildering these varying neighborhood alcohol laws may be, all you have to do in practice to buy booze is get on one of the city’s many secondary thoroughfares (say, Mockingbird or Lovers Lane — yes, Dallas really does have a major street named Lover’s Lane) and drive until you see liquor stores on either side of a cross street.
Still, it’s an idiotic system (or lack thereof) which mostly goes to disadvantaging grocery and convenience stores inconveniently located in the dry districts. At long last, Dallas voters will have the opportunity to end this silliness by voting Yes on Propositions 1 and 2 on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, of course, Californians will have a more interesting ballot proposition to consider, even though passage would have dubious if any legal effect given the federal preemption in the matter of substance control.
Which does raise an interesting historical, legal and political question. If the federal government lacked the legal authority to prohibit alcohol without a constitutional amendment, under what constitutional theory does it have the legal authority to regulate drugs without need of a constitutional amendment?