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Concealed versus Open Carry

December 15, 2014

Concealed versus Open Carry in TexasRecently a San Antonio man broke up an armed robbery at a Subway restaurant. The man was eating with his family when another man came into the store saying that he would begin shooting if the clerk did not hand over money from the cash register.  The bystander jumped to action and forced the would-be robber to the ground at gunpoint.

How do you feel about guns -- rifles, shotguns, pistols? The laws in Texas allow citizens to carry concealed handguns provided they have taken a class to obtain a Concealed Handgun License (CHL).  In talking with peace officers, they think this is a good thing.  Their views are twofold.  First, if you restrict the availability of weapons, only the bad guys will have them.  Second, law abiding citizens with handguns are a deterrent to crime. 

The day after the election Governor-elect Greg Abbott said "If an open carry bill is passed by the House and Senate, I will sign it into law."   

Proposed bills have already been drafted to allow the open carry of firearms in our state.  They fall into two categories.  One is to allow citizens to openly carry handguns after taking a course for a CHL permit.  The other would allow the open carry of handguns without a permit, called “Constitutional Carry.” 

As in any of these kinds of discussions there are differences of opinion.  Some would ask “Do we really want people who have no training, and perhaps no respect for gun safety, walking around with a loaded handgun on their hip?”  Their point is not focused so much on restricting the ability to have and carry firearms but more about the unsafe handling of one (e.g., safety for the owner as well those nearby).

Others would counter that there should be no restrictions on a person’s right to carry a weapon because by doing so we infringe on a citizen’s second amendment rights -- thereby restricting citizens’ freedom.  They contend it’s appropriate to allow people to carry a firearm wherever and however they want as long as doing so doesn’t infringe on someone else’s rights.

We favor open carry in Texas, not that we plan on walking around town with a gun strapped to our hip. But we see valid points for both sides of this debate. We would err on the side of caution.  If a person is a responsible citizen who knows how to safely handle a firearm we’d be OK with letting him/her to carry one – concealed or openly.   CHL holders and those who have passed state approved safety training should certainly be allowed to carry openly. 

Our advice?  If you want to carry because it’s macho, don’t do so because you could be headed for trouble.  If you want to carry for protection, go for it.  But always remember you are personally responsible and accountable for your actions.  If you are angry, leave your weapon at home.  Think before you act and never pull a weapon unless you actually intend to use it. 

Our recommendation is that open carry be permitted while legislators might want to consider requiring a handgun safety course so those carrying will know how to safely handle the weapon and their responsibilities relating to using it.

Bill, Mark, and John