Please note that this is a third party editorial and may not fully represent the views of Texas Fish & Game.
By now Texans have come to accept, either joyously or reluctantly, that the next session of the Legislature will produce a bill allowing the open carrying of handguns that will barely touch Gov. Greg Abbott‘s desk before it is signed it into law. It no longer does any good to point out that this state has gotten along just fine for more than a century without this law. Or that the concealed carry law was a terrific piece of legislation that allowed Texans to protect themselves without unduly alarming others.
All that sensible Texans can hope for now is that the law includes two important provisions:
— Licensing. Not every gun owner is the kind of person who should be packin’ heat in the grocery store, ready to blaze away at real or imagined threats. One of the benefits of the concealed carry law is that it requires permit holders to attend classroom and shooting sessions that cover basic points on gun safety and conflict resolution. Those classes emphasize a key fact: You really don’t want to shoot someone. It should be a last resort, never a first one. Even if a fatal shooting is justified, you may have to deal with lawsuits from the victim’s survivors or guilt over the fact that you killed someone. Real life is not a video game.
If the open-carry law doesn’t require licenses, other states may refuse to reciprocally honor our state’s guns laws, such as concealed carry. That would be a setback for the gun-rights movement – and one that can be avoided.
— Opt-out provisions. Contrary to the beliefs of some open-carry supporters, not every business or public venue in Texas is clamoring for this law. In fact, many of them specifically do not want exposed firearms on their premises unless they’re carried by members of law enforcement.
Colleges, businesses, etc. should be able opt out of this law by placing signs at their entrances. Schools, bars, etc. should be excluded from any open-carry law.
Both of these goals are logical and doable. Lawmakers must not cave in on them to satisfy pressure groups at the expenses of most Texans.