While the lawyers in San Antonio may not have collectively been campaigning for the legislation that legalizes the open carry of all firearms, the future may bring their caseload interesting twists as citizens test the limits of what will be legal, and what won’t. None of the rifle-toting San Antonio residents parading downtown last weekend, for example, were arrested, but that was because what they were doing was strictly legal, but the message that they were sending could be a dangerous one to the uninformed.
Not even all Texans are 100% sure why the open carry law has been so heavily supported. Some are touting constitutional rights, like the downtown San Antonio celebrants, who demand an eventual “constitutional carry, where you don’t need a license to carry a firearm,” while others may simply be harking back to the “good ole days” of the Wild West, passed beyond memory by all except those who’ve enshrined them in their minds alongside John Wayne’s performances. But even with the new legalization, Texans should be careful, as lawyers in San Antonio know all too well.
Right now, to legally carry a handgun on your person in the state, you pretty much have to be either on your property or be in possession of a license that allows you to conceal the weapon. The licenses are kind of hard to come by, too, as lawyers in San Antonio could attest. You have to take classes (which aren’t cheap) and the testing to gain a passing grade attempts to ensure that every participant is cognizant not only of basic firearm safety, but the laws of the land, including issues of liability.
The new open carry law in Texas allows all those people who have a license to legally carry a handgun, concealed, now carry it openly. Like, on their hip in a holster. Or in their pants tucked into their belt (though that option seems unnerving to the thoughts of our lower body parts). As the celebrating San Antonians had looked up in the legal books before they took to the streets, anyone who’s a registered rifle owner can carry a rifle or shotgun down the road. As long as you’re not doing it in a manner “calculated to cause harm,” lawyers in San Antonio might remind their would-be clients.
Opponents of the legislation have all but had their input overridden, but some unease lingers around the new law. Racial profiling, for example, is a major cause for concern for Sen. Rodney Ellis, (D-Houston) who supported an amendment to the bill that would forbid police officers for stopping a citizen solely because they were displaying a handgun. Technically, legally, they’d be required by law to have a license on their person that the police could verify, but now, the police can’t ask to see it unless they’re doing something else that’s suspicious or illegal.
It’s not an uncontroversial event, and it may in fact be “a hair’s breadth away from constitutional carry,” which invokes a divided sentiment among politicians and the public too, but for now, it’s looking like open carry (for licensed owners) is here to stay in the Lone Star State.