Texas Passes Open Carry and Campus Carry Bills

Texas passed the “Open Carry” bill (HB910) and the “Campus Carry” bill (SB11) on May 31, 2015; they’re waiting Governor Abbott’s signature.

Starting January 1, 2016, you can carry any handgun openly or concealed as long as you are licensed by Texas or a state with reciprocity. By law, the handgun must be carried in a “shoulder or belt holster.” Long arms do not require a license.

The campus carry bill is set to go into effect August 1, 2016, for four-year institutions, and August 1, 2017, for public junior colleges.

Under the current version of the bill, university presidents will establish “reasonable rules, regulations, or other provisions regarding the carrying of concealed handguns,” on campus. However, the bill clearly states that universities may not establish “general prohibitions” on concealed carry. Source: TheBatt.com

There was a lot of debate about an amendment to the open carry bill that would prevent law enforcement from stopping a person who is open carrying just because they are open carrying – to have them show their license. Proponents said it was a violation of the U.S. Fourth Amendment. Opponents said it would hinder law enforcement’s ability to do their job or keep the public safe. In the end the amendment was removed.

I can think of a catch 22 scenario where a person is forced to show their gun license: if a licensed person, who open carries, is stopped by a LEO under the suspicion that a crime is about to occur – that crime is failure to identify yourself as a gun license holder.

If the person doesn’t show their license then the LEO was right in their suspicion and they can arrest the person; they’ll search the person and find their license. If the person does show their license the LEO checks it and sends them on their way. Either way the LEO forced the person to identify.

All in all I glad the Texas legislature passed these bills. We’re living in times were force is sometimes required. There have been many instances where I said “that would have ended differently if only a (responsible) gun owner was present.” We shall see what the future holds for these laws – will the help or make things worse.