As of January 1, 2016, Texans can legally carry a loaded handgun openly or concealed as long as they are licensed by the State of Texas to carry and the handgun is in a shoulder or belt holster. Out of State licensed individuals may also carry in Texas as long as the State that issued the license has reciprocity. Long arm guns, however, do not require a license.
One non-profit organization that is largely responsible for this new law passing is Open Carry Texas (OCT). OCT fundamentally believes in the Constitutional right to carry. And though members are happy with the recent change in the law, the ultimate goal is to have the law allow any person who can legally purchase and own a gun to be able to legally carry that gun without having to go through the government to get a license or as they say “get permission.” This is what OCT means when it says it believes in “Constitutional Carry.”
Though the new law appears to be lenient on the surface, there are some limitations that will prevent an individual from carrying. For example, minors under the age of 18 without a parent present are not allowed to carry, as well as, individuals with certain criminal convictions. Federal law may also have restrictions on ownership so it should be considered if you intend to carry. And lastly, private property owners have the option of banning firearms from their property.
Ensuring private property owners maintain the right to ban firearms was a major factor in this law passing. Anyone wishing to ban guns from their private property need only place a sign stating no guns allowed. There are two legally specified signs. The first applies only to open carry and the second applies to concealed carry. So if a private property owner wishes to ban all firearms, he or she needs to post both signs.
For those of you who disagree with this loophole, you can purchase “No guns = No money” cards from a local OCT store to hand out to those business owners who choose to make the restriction. Though OCT members respect the wishes of those who choose to ban guns, they make a point to take their business elsewhere to “gun friendly” establishments.
Over the next few months, it will be interesting to see how many people choose to exercise their right to open carry. I am curious to see if this was largely a political agenda fueled by pro-gun organizations like the National Rifle Association or if Texans truly want to have the freedom to openly bear arms and will actually do so.
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