Wild West Round 2?

On January 1, 2016 Texas will become the 45th state to allow the open carry of handguns, having previously allowed a similar practice when involving long guns- including rifles and shotguns. Members of the media and anti-gun lobby have proclaimed this as a return to the Wild West, implying that Lone Star streets will soon resemble those of Dodge City. But, what will really happen?

First, let me say I was a bit surprised to learn that Texas did not already allow open carry, or the practice of carrying a firearm in a manner which does not conceal it from view. Maybe I was guilty of stereotyping or maybe I was confused by the earlier difference between handguns and long guns; either way, I was wrong. It just goes to show that you need to check local regulations when it comes to firearms.

But, on to the real issue. Is Texas truly destined to be the new Wild West? Do residents of Austin or Dallas need to be ready to “Draw!” next time a neighborly dispute erupts? No- and I believe attempts to claim otherwise are pure fear mongering.

GunsFirst and foremost, 44 other states allow for the open carry of handguns (only New York, California, Florida, Illinois and South Carolina still prohibit the practice). Even New Jersey, which is known for its anti-gun stance, allows permits holders to carry either concealed or open – their choice. Have you seen this type of Wild West behavior in Denver, New Orleans or Bangor?

The new law does not provide a loophole for those previously unable to obtain a concealed carry permit to now open carry. Everyone will be required to obtain the same license whether practicing concealed or open carry and the current requirements remain in effect – including background check, clean mental health history and training.

There is no reason to believe this new practice will somehow allow criminals to carry openly without fear of being punished. A previously-included “no stop” clause, which would have prevented law enforcement from stopping someone simply to check license status, was removed. Although it is possible that criminals not eligible for a license may attempt to get away with open carry, this is no different than what they are now attempting with concealed weapons in every single state.

I am sure there will be some growing pains and opportunities for both citizens and law enforcement to educate each other. There may even be a need to refine the law down the road. There will probably be a spike in carry permit applications but, if they are qualified, what harm is there in their exercising a Constitutional right? The expansion of individual rights should not be a cause for panic, regardless of which side of the gun debate you fall.

Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.

Tom Burrell

Tom Burrell

Tom enlisted in the US Marine Corps Reserves in 1987. Following service in Desert Storm, he transitioned to active duty with the US Coast Guard. In 1997 he left the USCG to pursue a position in conservation & maritime law enforcement. Tom is currently a Captain and he oversees several programs, including his agency investigation unit. He is also a training instructor in several areas including firearms, defensive tactics and first aid/CPR. In 2006 Tom received his Associate’s Degree in Criminal Justice from Harrisburg Area Community College and in 2010 a Bachelor’s Degree from Penn State University.
Tom Burrell
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2 thoughts on “Wild West Round 2?

  1. Twenty years ago, when Texas first established its Concealed Handgun License law, all the liberal newspapers and anti-Second Amendment fanatics made hysterical claims that “blood will run in the streets of Texas”. History has proven them to be fools then just as they are fools now. Glenn Beck posted a comparison of Houston, Texas and Chicago, Illinois—two cities remarkably similar in terms of population size and ethnic makeup. The dissimilarity is in gun laws and average climatic temperature. Gun happy Houston is warmer and considerably safer in terms of gun related crime than Chicago. Liberal “logic” would lead one to believe that cold weather causes an increase in gun homicides.

  2. I hate the idea of carrying a weapon in public. Having been in the military, I some sort of an idea of what it takes to be “qualified” to carry a weapon. Even for people in the military who receive weapons training on a regular basis, very few possess the skill and mind set that is required to safely handle a weapon. Living in a state where open carry is allowed, when I see someone wearing a gun on their side I go the other way. The idea that this is someone’s right is in direct contrast to my right to feel safe out in public when someone who shoots their pistol once a year feels the need to carry it with them to the grocery store.

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