The first day of the New Year marks the beginning of many things, gym memberships, saying goodbye to cigarettes, and for qualified Texas residents the ability to openly carry handguns.
Effective January 1st, 2016 Texas house bill 910 will become law and allow Texas residents to legally carry a handgun in public in plain sight on a hip holster or shoulder holster. However it isn’t quite the wild west just yet, there are stipulations surrounding the bill. Here is a quick break down of what exactly house bill 910 says.
According to the Texas Department of Public Safety, those who already possess a valid Concealed Handgun License (CHL) will be glad to hear that no additional application is necessary. The “Open Carry” law allows those who currently hold a valid CHL to continue to carry. Which by the way, is now referred to as ‘License to Carry’ (LTC). A separate license will not be required along with no additional fees nor any changes in the eligibility requirements.
Texas is not the first state to allow open carry and will actually become the 45th state to pass such a bill. Only five other states are left completely banning open carry: California, Florida, Illinois, New York, and South Carolina, including with Washington D.C. With 826,000 concealed license holders in the state in 2014, Texas will become one of the largest states to allow open carry.
Because of this sudden reality, there is quite a panic about the bill in relation towards businesses, schools, and other public areas. Private establishments are in fact allowed to prohibit the open carry policy on their property if signs are apparently posted. Some stores are split in deciding whether or not to allow firearms on their property, HEB is one example prohibiting firearms to be openly carried in their stores. House Bill 910 also states that open carry is not permitted, regardless if holstered, on the premises of an institution of higher education. Although “Open Carry” is still prohibited on campuses, it is not to be confused with Senate Bill 11 or ‘campus carry’, which goes into effect on September 1, 2016. This particular bill will allow concealed handguns on school property which have stirred quite the controversy already.
In an article published by ABC News Network, police officers will not demand to see a license if they have no other reason to stop a gun carrier. Andy Michael, the training commander for the Austin Police Department, stated that “we’re going to assume they’re a license holder, probably”. Many opponents of the bill are criticizing the state’s decision to pass it. In a poll conducted by the University of Texas and Texas Tribune, it showed that a minority of Texas voters are actually in favor of the open carry policy with only 32% in support. According to the Texas Police Chiefs Association, 75% of the 192 chiefs surveyed did not think there should be an open carry law in Texas. Due to these polls and surveys being released, many are arguing that the state legislature is being influenced by pro-gun interests as it is catering to a small select interest group instead of the overall consensus of the state.
It is advisable for anyone considering purchasing a gun to perform research, obtain proper training, and stay educated about gun safety. If you’ve been negligently injured by someone with a firearm, contact the lawyers of Herrman & Herrman, P.L.L.C., in Corpus Christi or McAllen.