Open Carry: Is Texas Next?

This entry is part 5 of 5 in the series Open Carry
Former slaves in an Emmancipation Day celebration in Texas

WHY DID TEXAS BAN CARRYING HANDGUNS AFTER THE CIVIL WAR? According to the Huston Chronicle, Texas gun laws changed several times from the late 1860s through the 1880s. (Openly carrying “pistols” was made illegal midway through this period in 1871.) The Chronicle says that most of these legal changes were aimed at controlling freed slaves. (The photo, above, shows former slaves attending an annual Emancipation celebration in Texas.) Texas politics were violently confrontational after the Civil War and various factions boosted the legal restrictions on openly carrying handguns to limit the ability of opponents to play politics with loaded guns. By 1889, openly carrying a pistol became a crime punishable by imprisonment.

Most states permit handguns to be openly carried, but Texas is not one of them—at least a little while longer. The Lone Star state has banned the open carry of handguns for 140 years, but it looks like that is about to change, making Texas the largest state in the union that permits the practice.

Do you think it’s a good idea for Texans—and for the country?

This week, we’ve examine the controversy around openly carried weapons, triggered by the recent incidents in Ann Arbor and Detroit, MI, where gun-right activists openly carried weapons in or near schools. We discussed reasons in support of open carry and reasons against the practice. We also noted, based on recent surveys, that for the first time, a majority of Americans say it’s more important to protect the right to own guns than it is to control guns.

Early this week, the Texas Senate approved a bill that would allow Texans who have a permit for carrying concealed weapons to openly wear their handguns in public. Democrats in the Texas Senate generally opposed it, but Republicans are the majority and their votes carried the day. A final vote is still needed before it goes to the Texas House of Representatives.

If the bill makes it through both chambers, it lands on Gov. Greg Abbott’s desk. In a March 15th tweet, he indicated that he will sign it: “I’m warming up my signing pen: Texas Legislature Ready to Move Forward on Open Carry Bill.” (@GregAbbott_TX).

In other states with Republican majorities, efforts are underway to loosen restrictions on guns.

Do you approve or disapprove of the Texas bill to permit openly carried handguns?
If it passes, what implications will it have for the rest of the nation?
At the end of our week on open carry, where do you stand—for or against?

Care to read more?

If you are intrigued by our photo caption, above, you’ll want to read Lauren McGauhy’s full story in the Houston Chronicle.

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