This commentary was originally featured in The Sacremento Bee on July 19, 2017

In “Guns, bathroom bills, deportation: Is Texas safe for my California kid?”, Shawn Hubler indulges in Lone Star fear and loathing. Like most Californians, she is liberal; this makes her uncomfortable with the prospect of her child attending college in conservative Texas.

Both California and Texas are tremendously diverse, demographically and in political opinion. In fact, both states are far more diverse than the average newspaper editorial board. In the last election, 85.5 percent of San Francisco voters turned out for Hillary Clinton. But in Lassen County, 270 miles to the northwest, 72.7 percent voted for Donald Trump.

In the far north panhandle of Texas, residents of Roberts County love their guns and Donald Trump, with an astounding 95.3 percent of the vote going to the New Yorker now in the White House. In Starr County in the Rio Grande Valley along the border with Mexico, they also love their guns, but voters there went 79.1 percent for the other New Yorker.

When I walked into my first Texas sporting goods store to buy ammunition, my jaw dropped. Looking from left to right at the vast array of weaponry I mumbled, “That’s illegal in California, that’s illegal in California, that’s illegal in California.” I pulled out my ID and steeled myself to sign government forms. The clerk just gave me that “You’re not from around here, are you?” look. Purchasing ammo is a God-given Lone Star State right.

California gun-grabbers think Texans’ affinity for firepower translates into a higher violent crime rate; they are wrong. The FBI’s 2015 crime data show California is a little less safe than is Texas despite the Golden State’s Second Amendment disdain.

Ms. Hubler frets that Texas is mean to all but white males, which makes one wonder when she last visited Silicon Valley or Hollywood. Of course, both California and Texas are majority-minority states. The U.S. Census Bureau says Hispanics constituted 38.9 percent of Californians in 2016. Texas tops that with 39.1 percent.

She also observed that, “Lone Stars were everywhere: on houses, on bedposts… on barns, on flags by the roadside.” Guilty as charged. Heck, after foxes and other varmints made off with my chickens, I fashioned a huge coop replete with a rooster weathervane and a massive Texas flag emblazoned on its Dutch door—no government permit required.

Texas pride is understandable when you realize Texas won a war by itself against a sovereign nation (Remember the Alamo!) and then ruled itself as an independent republic for just shy of ten years until 1846. Texans even pledge allegiance to the Texas flag right after they pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States.

California, on the other hand, was a “republic” for all of 25 days, never had a working government (sound familiar?), and owed its independence to the U.S. Army before being ruled by a series of Washington, D.C.-appointed military governors before statehood. Sad.

Had Ms. Hubler looked beyond the ubiquitous Lone Stars, she would have seen something else: liberty – the kind that doesn’t require other people’s money. For instance: Motorcyclists can feel the wind whipping through their helmetless hair on Texas State Highway 130, a toll road with a posted speed limit of 85 mph, America’s highest.

One thing Ms. Hubler likely wouldn’t have seen in her brief visit to Texas is the air. The American Lung Association ranks the dirtiest cities in the nation by ozone, year round particle pollution and short-term particle pollution. Of the most-polluted ten metropolitan areas in each of the three categories, California owns 21 of the 30 slots. Not a single Texas city appears on the top ten worst list. Ouch, that’s gotta hurt, California.

Texas: lower taxes, cleaner air, less crime, more freedom. Nope, nothing to fear here, Ms. Hubler, nothing at all.