Thanks for your courtesy and professionalism.
Unless one has been living under a rock in Texas, they are aware that, as of January 1, 2016, it is legal to carry a handgun openly if you have a Texas License to Carry a Handgun (“LTC”), formerly known as a Texas Concealed Handgun License “CHL.” This change in Texas law, known simply as “open-carry,” is quickly becoming a non-issue just as concealed-carry did after the creation of Tex. Penal Code §30.06 in 1997.
Many anti-Second Amendment pundits unfairly attacked people in 1995 who wanted to take a class, meet the state-required shooting proficiency standards, and obtain a CHL so they could carry a self-defense handgun. Similarly, a relatively few open-carry supporters unfairly attacked the law enforcement community claiming that officers would harass people carrying handguns openly.
They decried the failure to amend HB910 (open-carry Bill) such that peace officers would not be able to ask to see someone’s LTC if they were carrying openly. Their argument was that, without that provision, harassment of people carrying openly would be rampant. Such widespread criticism was both unwarranted and unfair.
Prior to the January 1, 2016 effective date of the open-carry Bill, several law enforcement officials and some district attorneys held “town hall” meetings to discuss open-carry. Some of these events were recorded and made available on YouTube and other video-hosting websites. Virtually all such town hall meetings were well attended with a mix of honest citizens wanting information, as well as anti-gun people wanting to complain about the lack of New York-style gun laws in Texas. Unfortunately, some of the meetings also included a few folks wanting to continue the unfounded preemptory attack on law enforcement officers. They wanted blanket guarantees that, regardless of the surrounding circumstances, no officer would ask a person carrying a handgun openly for their LTC. To a person, when these demands were made, the chief or sheriff responding stated that it would depend upon the totality of the circumstances. Obviously, a blanket “no stop” policy cannot be implemented because the armed individual may well have done something that warrants inquiry by the responding officer.
It was made abundantly clear in these town hall meetings across the state that neither law enforcement personnel nor prosecutors were the least bit interested in harassing LTCs who choose to carry a self-defense handgun openly. (In the twelve days since open-carry became legal, there are no reported incidents of “police harassment.”) A typical comment from chiefs of police, sheriffs and district attorneys was “people with a license to carry a handgun are good, law-abiding people the public has no need to fear.” This was glowing praise from law enforcement based upon the enviable twenty-year track record of concealed handgun licensees.
While there may be a few officers that violate their agency policy and intentionally detain an LTC solely for harassment purposes, there is every reason to believe they will be a very small minority of Texas peace officers. It would be grossly unfair to judge and condemn the entire law enforcement community for the actions of a few just as it would be unfair to judge and condemn almost one million LTCs for the irresponsible acts of a few.
The very real threat to open-carry comes from radical anti-gun groups who lie about the law, lie about people who are eligible to obtain a LTC, lie about Texans who carry self-defense handguns, and who call on their supporters to make false 911 calls whenever they see someone carrying a handgun openly. The more radical of these anti-gunners are openly calling for people to make false reports of dangerous conduct by the LTC in a practice commonly known as “swatting.” The goal of “swatting” is to get the LTC injured or killed by police. Both senior law enforcement personnel and district attorneys have stated in no uncertain terms that anyone caught making such false reports to law enforcement personnel will be arrested and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
Over the last twenty years, the relationship between law enforcement personnel and concealed handgun licensees has been one of mutual trust, respect and support. Most in law enforcement see the LTC as a “good guy card” just as most LTCs see the badge as a sign of honor and dedication. Yes, some tarnish the LTC and some tarnish the badge, but they are few and we cannot and do not judge our respective communities based upon those few.
To Texas peace officers, thank you for your dedication, your professionalism and your support of law-abiding Texas gun owners. God bless and protect you and God bless Texas!