Texas has a reputation for being a haven for cowboys. Many associate cowboys with guns. The vision of the gunslinger with his trusty Colt Peacemaker has been rendered obsolete. Texas, however, recently made a move that was long overdue; the Lone Star State now allows citizens to openly carry handguns.
Most would have assumed that Texas was friendly to open carriers. However, not until January 1st of this year were citizens allowed to carry pistols openly and still, those who wish to carry openly must possess a permit to do so.
However, these permit requirements are causing confusion for law enforcement as they cannot tell who is and who is not in compliance with the state’s law as law enforcement professionals are unsure if whether or not they are allowed to ask to see someone’s permit.
“What authority [do] the officers have?” Kevin Lawrence, executive director of the Texas Municipal Police Association recently wondered. “We need to get that clarified as much as possible so the officers know what’s expected of them going into any given situation.”
While 45 states allow for open carry, 15 of those states (including Texas) require a permit to do so.
Of course, a reasonable citizen could and should cite the Second Amendment as the appropriate permit…
Lawrence claims that the while the organization he represents is not an opponent of the law, he and his fellow law enforcement professionals have questions about how to ascertain who is in compliance with the law.
“If a citizen calls in, a business calls in, and says there is someone here carrying a firearm that we’re concerned about — the question then becomes exactly how much authority does that officer have to approach that individual and investigate whether or not they have a license to carry that gun?” Lawrence wondered.
The law has been popular with Texans and those carrying firearms may do so in the majority of places. Business owners who do not wish for their customers to retain their Second Amendment rights are legally obligated to display large signage in a visible place stating as such.
While Lawrence and others might have questions about the law, the simpler solution is readily evident: bring Texas more in-line with the Second Amendment and require no permits to openly exercise the right.
Texas’ law is a step in the right direction, but far from being satisfactory. A right is not a right if one must obtain written permission from the government to first exercise it. Such an activity is a “privilege,” not a right. Remedying this distinction will augment freedom in Texas and allow law enforcement agents to focus their attention on more pressing matters than a cowboy doing his shopping with a holstered Glock.