Well, we’re nearly two weeks into the new year and so far, no major incidents regarding the new Open Carry Law in Texas which took effect on January 1, 2016.
I thought it might be good to review the major changes to the law and address some frequently asked questions. So, here goes. And thanks to Edwin Walker of the Texas Law Shield for an excellent article on the subject in the November/December 2015 issue of the Texas State Rifle Association. If you live in Texas, you should join.
First, current CHL holders are no longer CHL holders. The name has been changed from Concealed Handgun License to License to Carry (LTC). There is no requirement that a new license be obtained.
However, for those applying after January 1, 2016, the process now requires that applicants receive training on how to secure an openly carried gun, and how to use a retention holster, although a retention holster is not required.
A visible handgun must be carried in a belt or shoulder holster. There is no strict definition of what a belt or shoulder holster is.
Those who prefer to continue to carry concealed may continue to do so.
A visible handgun is allowed in a car as long as it is in a belt or shoulder holster. There is no clear language to dictate that the belt or shoulder holster must be on the person.
The passage of the Campus Carry Act allows for LTC holders (and CHL holders) to carry concealed on a college campus, but DOES NOT allow open carry on campus.
Private business owners may prohibit concealed carry on their premises by posting a Texas Penal Code Section 30.06 sign on the entrance. Technically, a business owner who wants to prohibit both concealed and open carry must post both a 30.06 sign and a new 30.07 sign. However, not all business owners are aware of this, and this my need sorting out in the weeks and months to come.
And Finally, the Big Question:
What do I do if a police officer challenges me? First and foremost, remember that a LTC holder is only protected by the law if he/she has their CHL/LTC identification on their person. Sorry folks, but if you “left your wallet home” you are not protected.
The current law allows a police officer observing an open carry to request a license if he/she has a “reasonable suspicion” that the open carrier is not in possession of a license.
This means that it is basically officer’s discretion as to whether you are in compliance with the law. Some may be lenient; some may not.
The bottom line is, that this is a high risk stop for the officer. They may or may not be polite or conversational. Relax. What will probably happen in most cases is they will ask for your ID, which you will provide s-l-o-w-l-y. They may even ask you to surrender your gun temporarily. Do it. Not only does it make the situation safer for all parties, it also demonstrates that you have no criminal intent.
There’s more to the new law, and we will see more and more clarification as we go, as it will take some getting used to for those unaccustomed to seeing ordinary civilians carrying weapons.
So be patient, be respectful, and remember, even though it is your constitutional right, it is also a civic responsibility. You are, in effect, an ambassador of the Second Amendment.
I have tried to take the political implications out of this post, and I welcome your respectful comments and questions. I hope this helps.
Until next time, be safe.