Despite the stringent concerns voiced by its opponents, Texas’s law permitting the open carry of a firearm has yet to result in the predicted flood of 911 calls and interpersonal violence. State law enforcement agencies report no major incidents or increases in emergency calls.
Known formally as House Bill 910, the new law took effect on the first of the year. It allows individuals with the appropriate license “openly carry a handgun in the same places that allow the licensed carrying of a concealed hand gun with some exceptions.” The law does specify that openly worn handguns must be carried in a holster. There are some restrictions, including institutions of higher education.
Naysayers were vocal in their opposition, suggesting that open carry would make it difficult for law enforcement to spot “bad guys”, that accidents would be rife, and that the new law would “increase the likelihood for intentional and unintentional gun violence.”
Reports from Texas law enforcement presents a very different picture. A month after the new law took effect, a spokesperson for the Fort Worth Police Department said in a public statement: “We do not have anything interesting to report. Two calls so far, no issues. We have no concerns and we have no problems.” The Tarrant County Sheriff’s Department made a similar report, according to Sheriff Dee Anderson: “I said before this became law that I thought it as going to be much ado about nothing, but I didn’t know it was going to be this much nothing.” Tarrant County is home to 65,000 residents with the appropriate permit to carry a handgun.
Critics of the law say that it’s too soon to know what the long-term effects of legalized open carry will be. With legislation allowing on campus carry coming into effect on August 1st, the debate will likely continue.