On Jan 1, Texas became the 45th state to allow licensed handgun owners to openly carry a weapon in most public places.
The law requires handguns to be carried in a belt or shoulder holster. There are restrictions on where a license holder can carry their weapon.
Texas police departments have been preparing not only their officers, but their support staff as well, for the new laws passed in the 84th Regular Legislative Session that impact handgun licensing.
Back on Oct. 14, the FMPD held a training session on the changes. Chief of Police Andy Kancel said the key to making a smooth transition is education.
“If someone sees a person walking into a grocery store and shopping with a gun strapped on their belt or shoulder, it’s okay,” said Kancel.
Officer Paul Boone, training coordinator for the FMPD, presented the changes as of Jan.1, 2016.
House Bill 910:
Owners who have a Concealed Gun License (CHL), will be allowed to carry their weapon in full view; to carry a handgun, the new law is a License to Carry a Handgun (LTC), which replaces the CHL; licensees must receive training to obtain a license; weapon must be secured in a holster; and, a person cannot display the gun in a “threatening or provocative manner.”
“This is tough, but you know it when you see it,” said Boone. “If the person is sneaking around, trying not to be seen or not acting in a normal way, people can see that.”
He added that the department has educated its peace officers, as well as the dispatchers, so that if a call comes in about a person with a gun in view, questions to the caller can help calm that person and determine if there’s a real problem, or just a person with a holstered gun.
“Even if a dispatcher determines there’s no actual threat, the police department will have to respond, or the public will get upset,” said Travis Bond, owner of DFW Shooters Academy in Highland Village.
“We’ve been dealing with it for more than a year knowing that the law would be changing. I don’t think Open Carry will be a big deal after six-to-eight weeks; once the ‘newness’ has worn off.”
Boone added, “We don’t expect a lot of problems with license holders.”
Business owners may prohibit both Open Carry and Concealed Carry of a handgun by posting a sign in English & Spanish, as found in Penal Code 30.06 and 30.07
Bond, a former police officer, added that he thinks those trying to make some kind of statement by carrying openly will actually make it more difficult for those who practice concealed handgun carry.
“It could backfire if people practicing Open Carry cause businesses to start posting signs prohibiting guns,” he said. “That means that places now allowing concealed-carry handguns will no longer allow them either.”
Generally Prohibited from carrying a weapon, Penal Code 46.03, are: School or educational institution, either grounds or buildings or a vehicle owned by the school; a polling place on the day of an election or early voting; a government court or court offices; a racetrack; a secure area of an airport; or within 1,000-feet of an execution. Also, bars where more than 51-percent of revenue comes from the sale of alcohol.
Posted signage: hospital; nursing home; amusement park; church; synagogue; or at a governmental meeting.
Town employees are governed by the Personnel and Administrative Regulations Manual (PARM), except for sworn peace officers, and are subject to the same restrictions as the public
“At the least, those carrying will meet minimum standards, without any additional training,” said Bond. “Displaying their gun in public could easily put them in a situation where they have to defend themselves; with no additional training.”
He added that those openly showing their handguns will make themselves more open to possible attack. Those having only minimum training could make them more vulnerable than when a handgun is concealed. He added that people should consider taking more than the minimum requirements.
“To qualify, people need a clean background, take a class from a state licensed instructor, which means at least four-hours, but not more than six hours,” said Bond. “That means we have to cover a ‘gulf’ of information that was previously given in 10-hour classes [changed last year], pass a 25-question test and shoot 50-rounds, mostly from between nine-feet to 21-feet/7-yards; shooters have to be really bad not to meet that.”
Gun sales are booming these days with no signs of a slowdown.
“At the Fort Worth gun show today [Saturday, Jan. 2, 2016], we sold twice as many handguns and modern sporting rifles as we normally do.”