In early 2016, state legislators approved an open carry law in Texas. In June, Governor Greg Abbott signed it into law. There’s been much confusion about what this means for citizens, so we’re breaking down what you need to know about the new statute.
What Is the Open Carry Law?
Texans can now carry their weapons on a shoulder or hip holster. In the past, you needed to conceal your weapon and obtain a concealed carry permit.
To open carry in Texas, you must be at least 21, have a clean psychological and criminal record, complete classroom training, and pass a shooting test. You must also have a concealed carry license. An estimated 925,000 Texans have a concealed carry license and may choose to open carry. That’s around 3% of the population.
Can I Take My Gun Wherever I Want?
There’s a common misconception that this new law essentially makes Texas the Wild West. Gun-free zones are still gun-free zones, so you can’t take your weapon near schools or other designated places. Businesses are still free to make their stores gun-free, but they have to post signs saying so. Dallas and Fort Worth ban guns at the City Council and at local sporting events. Check your local municipal code to see if guns are banned in other public places.
What Makes the Law Controversial?
Opponents of the law think that seeing someone carry a gun on their holster will be emotionally upsetting for some people. They also argue that it may make law enforcement harder, as police may have a tougher time spotting criminals.
An advocacy group, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, stated that 66% of Texans and 75% of police chiefs in Texas were opposed to the measure, but the state legislation passed it anyway. They say that it goes against public opinion in Texas
Supporters of the measure maintain that this is an overreaction, and that Texas is late to the game. It becomes the 45th state to allow open carry. The Lt. Governor of Texas, Dan Patrick, told NBC’s Meet the Press that opposition to the bill was merely anti-gun “propaganda.”
What Do Businesses Think of the Measure?
Businesses are free to ban open carry, and several have taken advantage of that freedom—Whole Foods, HEB, Whataburger, and others have made their businesses gun-free. Others, like Kroger and Home Depot, allow holstered weapons.
Some restaurants are even offering discounts to those who open carry. Websites are compiling lists of area businesses and their plans to opt-out or embrace the new law.
How Is the Government Preparing?
Schools, police departments, and cities are training officers and employees about the new law. School districts, like Dallas, are placing reminders on their websites that they remain gun-free zones. It’s illegal for anyone to bring a gun onto school property, even if they have a concealed carry license. This includes all school-related events, like games and field trips.
Guns must still be concealed on college campuses, which also have the option of opting out of concealed carry on campus. Several private colleges have already done so.
Your Open-Carry Attorney in Houston, TX
Carrying a gun without a license or open carrying where guns aren’t permitted can carry stiff penalties. At the Law Office of David Breston, we believe that a simple lapse in judgment shouldn’t have a lasting effect on your life. We’re here to minimize the effect that a mistake has on your well-being. Let us be your advocate in and out of the courtroom. For more information and to take advantage of our criminal defense services, contact us today.