Society and Culture
Texas Considering Open Carry of Handguns
When most people think of Texas one of the first things they associate with this great state is guns–and they would be correct. Texans love their guns! And now lawmakers in the Lonestar state are considering expanding our gun rights.
According to Fox News, Governor-elect Greg Abbott was very open about this the day after his election in November: “If open carry is good enough for Massachusetts, it’s good enough for the state of Texas,.”
Texas has had an open carry ban since the 1870s and I think it might be time to reevaluate those laws. The whole purpose of the original ban of carrying handguns was “when the carpet-bagger government was very anxious about former Confederates and recently freed slaves carrying firearms.”
There are now about 810,000 registered concealed handgun license holders in the state. That is the entire population of San Francisco.
Despite the early momentum of this idea, there are no guarantees open carry will even pass. Bills to allow concealed handguns on college campuses appeared to have huge support in 2009, 2011, and 2013, but they didn’t go anywhere due to objections from universities and law enforcement.
There are plenty of Texans who have their concealed handgun license, so we already know that at least those people are carrying guns. Why not let them show that they are carrying the gun instead of hiding it from all to see? Some people get a certain level of comfort from knowing that they could protect themselves if need be.
I do understand the objections of universities allowing handguns on campus. There haven’t been many shootings on campuses in Texas; but one notorious shooting could keep most universities on edge. Back in 1966, Charles Whitman climbed to the top of the University of Texas Tower with three rifles, two pistols, and a sawed-off shotgun. This guy was an ex-Marine and an architectural engineering major at UT who had already murdered his mother and wife before going to the UT Tower and continuing his killing spree. He had perfect aim at the five-block radius below to kill whomever he wanted. It took 96 minutes to take Whitman down, but 43 people were shot and 13 of them died. That is one chilling tale and enough to have anyone want to oppose an open carry law. However, Charles Whitman was a very sick man and there have been steps taken to prevent something like that from happening again.
Texas has the most federal firearms license holders in the country. The state allows public displays of long guns, such as rifles and shotguns. Concealed handguns are allowed inside the Capitol, where license holders can bypass metal detectors. And yet Texas still insists that handguns be concealed.
According to Fox News, most of the country already allows some form of open carry of handguns but Texas, California, Florida, New York, Illinois, and South Carolina–which make up more than a third of the U.S. population–do not.
A majority of the open carry bills already filed for the upcoming session would still require a license. One, by Rep. Jonathan Stickland, R-Bedford, would eliminate the licensing requirement for concealed or open carry. This is something I don’t agree with. If you are going to openly carry a gun around then you need to have a license. You need to have something that says you understand how to use the gun, what the gun laws are, and what kind of power a gun has.
Texans love their guns. I was raised on how to use them but also how to respect them. It is a culture down here in the South. By all means allow us to show that we have a gun but still make sure that those who carry have the same knowledge and respect for those guns.