Monday morning, scores of Texans from around the state flocked to the Capitol to speak to lawmakers. With empty holsters and “Come and Take It” flags in tow, members of Open Carry Texas and other gun rights groups rallied in support of legislation that most would not believe Texas lacks: open carry.
In Texas, the Second Amendment is more than a birthright, it’s a way of life. Most Texans would be shocked to learn that while a supermajority of states in the Union allow open carry, current Texas law places it in the company of New York and California.
The issue took center stage during the November elections when candidates became vocal on the subject. Governor Abbott promised Texas voters on the campaign trail, and after he was elected, that he would sign the law if it came to his desk.
“If open carry is good enough for Massachusetts, it’s good enough for the state of Texas,” Abbott said. “If an open carry bill is passed by the House and Senate and arrives at my desk I will sign it into law.”
Even Wendy Davis recognized the salience of supporting of open carry on the campaign trail by transparently pledging her support. However, after Texas voters overwhelmingly rejected her at the ballot box she showed her true colors and stated she “regretted” her decision.
As of now, legislation has been introduced to correct the issue, which falls into the two different camps of licensed open carry and constitutional carry. Both are similar in the sense that they would allow open carry of handguns in areas of the state where concealed carry is currently allowed. However, they differ significantly in terms of application.
Licensed open carry legislation, such as SB 346 sponsored by State Sen. Estes, would require individuals wishing to carry openly to undergo a licensing procedure similar to the existing requirement to carry concealed.
Meanwhile, constitutional carry advocates reject the idea that a license should be required.
Constitutional Carry proposals such as State Rep. Stickland’s bill, HB 195, remove the licensing provision as a requirement for carrying openly or concealed. The law would, however, maintain the licensing procedure for concealed carry as an option for those wishing to obtain the license to carry in other states which have reciprocity agreements.
“There are a lot of people who are sick and tired of paying a fee for their basic rights and liberties,” Stickland said. “It’s rejecting the notion that we need to beg government for permission to do things like protect ourselves.”
Most of those gathered in the Capitol were in support of Stickland’s legislation.
“There’s 31 states that have unlicensed open carry, and I don’t see why Texans should be any less responsible, any less trusted with those same rights,” said C.J. Grisham, president of Open Carry Texas.