Texas Poised to Pass Open Carry Law

For the past 125 years, Texas has prohibited the open carry of handguns. You can open carry rifles and other long guns, but handguns are right out. I think Texas is a little out of step with the times.

Finally, after over a century, they might be about to legalize the open carry of handguns with SB17. Breitbart reported:

The Texas Senate passed the “open carry” bill, SB 17, on second reading Monday evening after about three and a half hours of debate. The vote was on partisan lines, with the 20 Republican Senators voting in favor of the bill, and the 11 Democrats voting against it. The bill still needs to go to third reading before it will be deemed officially passed by the Senate.

The bill is, in essence, an expansion of the state’s current regulations for concealed handgun licenses (CHL). SB 17 would allow those who have qualified for a CHL to also carry a handgun openly, in a belt or shoulder holster. Current Texas law allows the open carry of long guns like shotguns and rifles. Some gun rights activists have advocated for “constitutional carry,” or allowing people to carry guns without the need for a license, but that approach was not adopted by Sen. Craig Estes (R-Wichita Falls), the author of the bill.

[…]

About eight hundred thousand CHL licensees “have been vetted, have been trained, and I feel can be trusted” about whether or not to carry a gun, and how they would chose to carry, said Estes. “I believe in freedom,” he continued, and “I have great confidence in our license holders that they will do the right thing and exercise their freedoms in a very responsible way.” As Breitbart Texas reported, records maintained by the Texas Department of Public Safety dating back to 1996 show that CHL holders make up less than one-half of one percent of criminal convictions.

This is a no-brainer for Texas. It’s weird that they would allow rifles and shotguns but not handguns. You’d think it would be the other way around, if anything.

What I would want to know is if this law will have any effect on how police will treat this new crop of open handgun-carriers which will no doubt be created, assuming the law passes and is signed by the Governor, who has stated that he’s “warming up his pen” to sign it. Are the police still going to harass them, interrogate them, and arrest them for “disturbing the peace,” even though their actions would be completely legal?

While the law would be a step in the right direction, I think it’s equally important to train the police not to overreact anytime a civilian is carrying a handgun, something the police do everyday.