Despite a 14% increase in gun violence between 2020 and 2021, Texas just passed a new law that allows most legal firearms owners to openly carry a handgun in public without a license or training. Formerly, the state required a permit and 4 to 6 hours of training to carry a firearm.
Texans have voiced three main concerns about allowing permitless carry and the removal of training requirements:
1. Some say it will make it easier for felons to carry guns in public.
2. Police officers say citizens who openly carry make it harder for them to distinguish a good guy from a bad guy.
3. People are concerned that being able to openly carry a gun without required training will put lives at risk.
Although all of these concerns have merit, there’s another side to the story: Texans now fully have their Constitutionally guaranteed right to bear arms outside of their home.
Texans probably don’t need to worry about felons
Most felons who own firearms illegally aren’t likely to go parading around with a gun on their hip. At the end of the day, they’re still a felon, and getting detained while carrying a firearm will only earn them another felony charge and conviction.
If a felon openly carries an illegal firearm, he or she is risking the loss of freedom. Suppose a cop sees the person doing something illegal and detains them; they’ll be required to provide identification.
Once the individual’s ID gets run through the system, the officer will know he or she is a felon and has grounds to arrest on the spot.
A gun shouldn’t make someone suspicious
When the police say they’re concerned about being able to distinguish a good guy from a bad guy, one must acknowledge that the mere presence of a firearm makes the person suspicious. That’s due to the fact that the sight of guns in public hasn’t been the norm at any point in our lifetime.
However, law-abiding citizens who own guns only wish to exercise their right to protect themselves in public. That sincere and law-respecting desire has unfortunately led to people carrying legally and being met with extreme reactions from police.
Law enforcement officers should focus on a person’s behavior to determine whether he or she might be committing – or about to commit – a crime. This would require a major shift in how police perceive citizens with firearms.
Does the right to bear arms supersede safety concerns?
The debate over rights vs. responsibilities has always been a major point of disagreement. Some people believe the right to bear arms applies only to one’s home. Others argue the state has a duty to prohibit open carry in order to protect citizens from accidental discharges and mass shooters who don’t bother to hide their guns.
Although plenty of news reports have said open carry and concealed carry increase violent crime, that’s not necessarily true. A person’s safety isn’t any more at risk when people carry firearms in public, concealed or not.
Public safety and carrying a firearm in public aren’t mutually exclusive
When you read about violent incidents involving people who were legally carrying a firearm, the common denominator is usually that person behaved irresponsibly. For example, the Chicago Tribune published an article that summarized several incidents in which concealed carry permit holders were responsible for unnecessary violence and risk.
When armed citizens pursue suspects instead of leaving it up to law enforcement, they often end up getting killed. This doesn’t mean carrying a firearm is dangerous; instead, it means those gun owners made a poor decision.
Rather than blame the ability to carry a firearm in public, it would make more sense to educate people about not pursuing suspects and choosing to call the police instead.
Carrying a firearm in public can save lives
There are endless points to be made on either side of the argument over normalizing firearms in public. But most people can’t deny that carrying a firearm can save a person’s life.
Not counting those who carelessly pursue suspects, many people who carry have been able to ward off and stop attacks from taking place. Although most people carry a firearm in public for personal protection, numerous armed citizens have stopped mass shooters.
Reports that assert nobody has ever stopped a mass shooting are incorrect.
The new Texas law could help normalize open carry
For many people in America, it’s not normal to see people carrying firearms in public. The new Texas law could change that – at least in the state of Texas.
There are benefits to normalizing the sight of firearms in public, including a reduction in unnecessary harassment from police. Once police no longer regard any citizen with a gun as an immediate threat, there will be fewer unnecessary deaths caused by overreactions.