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.
First 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.