Since the shooting at Fort Hood, which left four soldiers dead and an additional 17 people injured, Texans have expressed strong opinions on the state’s open-carry policies.
Texas is not a traditional open-carry state. The Texas Constitution states that long gun open carry is not forbidden by law, unless it is done in a manner “calculated to cause alarm.” The open carry of handguns, however, is not permitted.
Alice Tripp of the Texas State Rifle Association was the first person to testify at a hearing about open-carry in Austin on April 7. She said that Texas is one of only five states that outright bans the open carry of handguns.
“It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense,” Tripp told Breitbart Texas. “45 other states are either silent in their law or completely allow open-carry… Texas would like to have a contemporary law that allows people, with a state-issued license, to have the option of not keep their handgun concealed… There are currently about 760,000 people in Texas with concealed handgun licenses. We’ve tracked the data and found that these individuals are actually 15 times less likely to commit a crime than Texans of the same age. You don’t get a license to become a criminal.”
She also mentioned that allowing citizens to open-carry with the appropriate permit would not necessarily cause an influx of gun owners.
“I don’t expect there to be a significant increase of open-carry folks. It’s not like all of a sudden everyone has a holster that matches their shoes,” Tripp said.
C.J. Grisham, President of Open Carry Texas, has also expressed strong support for open-carry policies since the incident at Fort Hood.
Grisham told Breitbart Texas, “If open-carry is such a problem, why are we one of only five states that don’t allow it? Open-carry is so important to state security and is not responsible for open crime. It is actually responsible for a decrease in crime. When a criminal sees a gun, it deters them from committing a crime.”
Indeed, a study by Gary Kleck found that 92 percent of criminals are deterred from committing a crime when they see a firearm – even if the firearm is not used.
Grisham told Breitbart Texas that he submitted a recommended bill to the state legislature in April that, if passed, would allow for unlicensed open-carry and concealed carry
“If a lawmaker can carry into a certain building, I should be able to carry in that building too. My bill removes those barriers that creates a special class of government officials,” Grisham said.
However, not everyone agrees with him.
Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America provided Breitbart Texas with a statement from its regional manager Hillary Rand that said, “Make no mistake, what open carry now means in Texas is a movement toward unfettered, unrestricted ability to openly carry any kind of loaded long gun, anywhere and at anytime… It is the duty of the Texas legislature to encourage responsible gun ownership by requiring background checks on all gun sales and enacting certain minimum requirements to carry a loaded gun in public.”
“Moms Demand Action continues to give a very emotional response to open carry,” Grisham said. “Hillary Rand’s basic argument is, ‘My kids shouldn’t have to look at a gun,’ which is based only on emotion. I don’t want to look at Hillary Rand, but I’m not going to force her out of the public eye.”
Grisham concluded, “I’m confident that next year, when the legislature gets back in session, we are going to have some form of open carry. We made a good case on Monday that open-carry is important to security and crime prevention in Texas.”
Follow Kristin Tate on Twitter @KristinBTate.