Texans are decidedly split on the matter of open carry, but even with vocal dissent echoing from a number of residents, the state’s open carry law hasn’t produced much in the way of elevated violence or police reported issues. With the law just starting to see action in Texas, the state is readying itself in a number of ways to deal with both expected problems and the realities of the legislation.
Picking A Side
While the new law allows those with a concealed handgun license to visibly carry holstered guns, businesses and private institutions are still allowed to prohibit holstered guns in their facilities at their discretion. This has caused a stark division amongst Texas businesses, some of which fully support open carry, some of which wholeheartedly oppose it, and many stuck in between.
For many Texas business owners, the issue is a matter of what’s good for business. As private residents many support the ability to own and carry guns, but worry that open carry will negatively impact their ability to turn a profit, either by making customers or their own employees feel uncomfortable enough that they might avoid the business. This has put businesses at odds with open carry supporters, essentially ensuring that no matter what they choose they will isolate one part of their customer base.
The Vocal Minority
Despite the tough choice posed to local businesses, open carry is proving to be less of a conspicuous issue than opponents originally feared. Few incidents were reported in the first week of the law, and that’s in large part part due to the exact nature of the law.
It only permits open carry of holstered handguns by those already in possession of a concealed handgun license. Of the roughly 27 million people in Texas, only around 826,000 have handgun licenses. That means that only around 3 percent of Texans are legally allowed to visibly carry their firearm. Of those allowed, only a fraction are expected to actually take advantage of the new law.
Open carry supporters have always represented a vocal minority in Texas, largely because only a small part of Texans would ever be able to utilize such a law. That means that despite the attention advocates have garnered for the issue, the number of weapons that will be openly carried are simply not statistically significant enough to cause a massive stir across all ends of Texas.
Local authorities seem to be ready for this, anticipating that much of the calls they would receive early on would end more in explanation of the new law than any action necessary on their part. City and county police have largely been left in charge of dealing with any perceived violations in their area, and for the most part incident levels seem to remain low as the law slowly takes hold. What the impact will be as Texans become more accustomed to seeing holstered guns in public places is yet to be determined.