For years, supporters of open-carry gun laws have pleaded with lawmakers to allow Texans to bear their arms openly in public. With the front-running Republican gubernatorial candidate proposing open carry laws, many supporters believe the time has finally arrived for legislators to approve such a measure.
“I think open carry will be the Second Amendment issue this next session, and I do think that we can pass it because the support is just tremendous,” said state Rep. George Lavender, R-Texarkana, who introduced open-carry legislation that failed earlier this year.
In a speech earlier this month, Attorney General and GOP gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott proposed allowing concealed handgun license holders to carry their firearms openly. Gun advocates say Abbott’s proposal reflects growing acceptance within Texas of unconcealed handguns, and some predict open carry laws could pass as soon as 2015. But opponents of the proposal say looser gun laws won’t reduce violence.
“People are advocating for open carry because it gives a feeling of dominance, but there is zero scientific evidence that more guns or openly carrying reduces violence,” said Kellye Bowman, the Texas spokeswoman for Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense.
The gun proposal was part of Abbott’s “We the People” policy initiative released earlier this month. In it, Abbott called open carry important to anyone who wants to use a handgun as a deterrent or for self-defense.
“An openly carried weapon is no more dangerous than one carried in a concealed manner,” the proposal said. Abbott’s proposal would also allow CHL holders to carry weapons on college campuses, subject to the approval of each school’s board of regents.
Since 1995, Texans have been permitted to carry concealed handguns if they obtain a license from the Texas Department of Public Safety. Texas is one of six states, along with the District of Columbia, that expressly prohibit the open carry of handguns. A majority of states permit the open carry of handguns, with many requiring a license to do so. Texans can, however, openly carry long firearms, like rifles and shotguns, virtually without restrictions.