Abbott says he will keep his promise on ‘open carry’ law

Tara Cowan of Euless,Texas, stands by a busy road intersection holding a flag that reads "Come And Take It", as she and others with the group Open Carry Tarrant County demonstrate, Thursday, May 29, 2014, in Haltom City, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
Tara Cowan of Euless,Texas, stands by a busy road intersection holding a flag that reads "Come And Take It", as she and others with the group Open Carry Tarrant County demonstrate, Thursday, May 29, 2014, in Haltom City, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — “If open carry is good enough for Massachusetts, it’s good enough for the state of Texas,” said Governor-elect Greg Abbott at a press conference Wednesday. It is currently illegal to have a handgun out in the open in Texas, but some conservatives want to see that changed. While Abbott may be making good on a campaign promise, some consider the efforts misguided.

“I’ve been a gun owner ever since I was 10 years old. I got a BB gun for my birthday and I’ve been loving guns ever since,” said Nick Davis.  He’s currently applying for a concealed hand gun license and he wants to be able to show his gun in public. “A purported criminal, who saw you had an open carry, maybe that would deter him.”

In Texas, someone can openly carry a rifle or long-gun.  It is illegal to openly carry a handgun.

“You go ‘wow,’ Texas is one of the few states that doesn’t allow open carry,” said Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson who authored the 1995 bill allowing concealed carry of a handgun with a license. Since then, murder rates have dropped. “You can’t say that it’s because the passage of the law, but you can certainly conclude that all those doomsday predictions were wrong.”

Abbott says he’d sign an open carry bill if it reaches his desk.

Patterson says the only thing that could stop open carry in Texas would be public, in-your-face style protests, where supporters openly carry long-guns like AR 15s, shotguns, and rifles in public to prove a point. Patterson called the protests “obnoxious.”

“I’m proud that Texas does not allow open carry for handguns, now,” said Frances Schenkkan from Texas Gun Sense. She says the legislature should focus on universal background checks, not open carry. “Guns do hurt people, we don’t want to forget that.”

What might be surprising is that Texas is one of just six states that ban open carry outright, putting it in line with states like Florida and California. The majority of states allow guns in public, and only a few even require a permit. The open carry ban in Texas dates back more than 130 years. After the Civil War, laws were put in place to prevent former slaves and ex-Confederate soldiers from carrying guns.

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