Texas Open Carry of Handguns

The recent news that the State of Texas is considering allowing our citizens to carry handguns openly has resulted in a slew of e-mail headed my way.

Including, by-the-by, one from an apparently confused Brady supporter who seems to have gotten his LawDogs mixed up.

But I digress.

What is my position on allowing the open carry of handguns in the Great State of Texas?

I’m all for it.

Options are good. Anything that gives law-abiding citizens more options and choices as to how they go about their everyday business is a Good Thing.

Oh, I’ve heard all the arguments: “Oh, sweet zombie Jeebus! It’ll be the Wild West all over again!”

First off, the open-carrying Wild West had a murder rate considerably less than that of a modern big city — so the return of the Good Old Days (and their lower murder rate) would actually be a Good Thing.

If you’re thinking of Hollywood’s hysterical, historically inaccurate, bushwa version of the Wild West — well, the motto of Holly is “Willing Suspension of Disbelief”. Just because Hollywood has shown me kids flying on brooms, talking battle bears and elephant-skating elven archers, it doesn’t mean that I expect any of those things outside of the theatre.

And so it is with the whole “Wild West gun-fights-on-every-corner” argument: looks good on the big screen — doesn’t happen in Real Life.

Case(s) in point: Vermont has NO LAWS whatsoever regulating the carry of firearms, neither does Alaska. Citizens can open carry in those states without any interference by way of the Government — at all.

When was the last time you heard of multiple street-corner gunfights in either of those two states?

In addition, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota, Arizona, New Mexico, Kentucky, West Virgina and Virginia already allow the open carry of firearms with neither permit nor licence required to do so.

I don’t know about y’all, but when it comes to running gun battles on street corners, South Dakota and Wyoming aren’t the first places that comes to mind.

Washington, DC and Chicago, now, do come to mind — but open carry is forbidden to citizens in those places, so they really don’t count.

The gutters haven’t run chest-deep in blood due to law-abiding citizens open carrying firearms in any other state where open carry is allowed — they’re not going to overflow in Texas, either.

Open Carry in Texas has my support and my vote.


Meditations on stopping power
H-S Precision: Women and Children First.

53 thoughts on “Texas Open Carry of Handguns”

  1. Actually, the “Old West”-gunslingers-at-every-turn did exist, briefly, in some places where very exacting conditions prevailed.

    1) Beyond the fringes of law abiding society, were the majority of the population was hiding, as along the mail routes that Mark Twain describes in Roughing It. This was a temporary condition, ended by the arrival of real settlers.

    2) In certain places where for one reason or another the population was mostly intent on fast riches- usually either by mining gold or silver, or by fleecing those that did. Such “Boom towns” were a bad mix of mostly men, loose money, bad booze, and crooks. They didn’t last long either, and as the Canadian Mounties proved during the Yukon gold rush even minimal policing could keep it down to a dull roar.

    Personally, I think that a law against openly carrying a cell-phone would do more to improve society, elevate manners, and make us all safer. I’d gotten resigned to the idiots who think they can drive while holding a hand-set, but now I’m beginning to notice an increasing number who can’t talk and walk at the same time without constituting a hazard.

  2. Just wanted to add another free state to the list–here in Pennsylvania, you only need a license to open carry in cities of the first class (Philadelphia.) In the rest of the state, including Pittsburgh, open carry is legal and unlicensed.

  3. You forgot North Carolina in the list of states where one can carry openly with no permit.

    Blog on!

  4. A slight amendment LD, NH also allows permit-less open carry, (is shall-issue for concealed).

    DT in NH

  5. I suspect that in most states, open carry is allowed because no one bothered to write a law about it.

    The entire state of Michigan is technically an open-carry zone, with certain exceptions (for all but peace officers and CCW-permit holders…and even CCW-permittes have a different list of exceptions…)

    However, in practice, open carry is usually a quick way to have a long conversation with an officer of the law, probably followed by a warning not to cause trouble by open carrying.

  6. Forgot Nevada, too.

    As a teenager (in the 1970s), I open carried into a Post Office without so much as a second glance.

  7. Put a candle in the window for your oppressed brethren in CA, NY, IL… ;>

  8. Open carry is legal in Utah it is a pretty common practice here actually, most people don’t even notice it though. Whenever an article comes out you always hear the same comments from the antis about wild west shoot-outs etc. It certainly is a lot more comfortable to open carry.

  9. I’d love the Right to open carry, but I’m not sure how much I would (will) actually do it. I’m not sure I’d want the hassle of explaining to unknowing LEO’s about the laws of TX, nor do I want anyone knowing if and when I have a gun on my person. OTOH, I can’t seem to find the perfect IWB holster for my CCW’s (I’m not a Glock or 1911 guy) so OWB/OC would be a nice change.

  10. I don’t mind if anyone else open-carries (in fact, I approve of open-carry laws and court decisions, as they tend to short-circuit asinine “brandishing” and “armed to the terror of the populace” laws), but I have absolutely no interest in doing so.

    I get a lot of milage out of being a Boojum.

  11. Unlike concealed carry, I’m of two minds about open carry.

    Pro: I understand that most folks who choose to go armed, whether open or concealed, are not a threat to anyone. They carry a weapon for reasons of self-defense, period. Nothing wrong with that.

    Con: it seems to me that openly carrying a weapon — any weapon, of any kind — is intimidating to others in a way that concealed-carry isn’t. At least, it would be to me, because I know the person is armed, but I don’t know why. So I don’t know if, or how far, I can trust them.

    This might just be because I’m a suspicious son-of-a-bitch by nature. When driving, I try to maintain a very large cushion of empty space around me, because I don’t trust other drivers to not do stupid or careless things.

  12. DoubleTrouble beat me toit – NH has open carry. And, although a permit is required to CC, this is a Shall Issue state, not a May Issue one (AKA – Only If You Know Someone state).

  13. Wolfwalker, under the intimidation thesis you put forth, I shouldn’t be able to work out anymore, since just looking at most people seems to intimidate them. SUVs and trucks with big tires, too. I know where you were trying to go with it, but it just doesn’t work. Everyone is an unknown quantity, whether they’ve got a gun, an LEO badge, or a phonebook they may clock me with. Be polite, but have a plan to kill everyone you meet and such.

    Louisiana is another open carry by “lack of law.” Moriarty, haven’t post offices been expressly forbidden for carry via federal law for a long, long time? Over 60 years? It’s pretty well indicated that carry in a USPS Office gets the key thrown away as a felony.

    Like I said in the other OC post, anyone that hasn’t OC’d will be stunned at how little anyone notices. Kids always do, but especially IWB (open carry), people are largely oblivious. Of course, if you and seven friends are coming from the range all OC’ing into a McDonalds, you’re begging for the cashier to drop a line like, “It’d really be the wrong time to rob this place, huh?” (true story)

  14. Open Cary is legal in Washington State. It is not uncommon out in the Wet Wild Woods–not to mention the Parched Bright Eastside–but most active gun rights types here seem to feel that, not only does open carry increase the possibility of Freaking The Mundanes, as they say at Science Fiction Conventions, but it also gives up a tactical advantage. I guess it depends on what kind of threat you are arming yourself against— a “casual” goblin might move on seeing you are armed, a “professional” one might target you first to take out the threat to him and get your gat.

    Word: aporo. Non-porous.

  15. Thank you, Br’er Dawg.

    Our biggest obstacle to winning open carry in Texas is not anti-gunners, who remain a minority in the state. No, our biggest obstacle is the hand-wringing and hysteria among other gun owners, who worry that open carry will “ruin it for the rest of us!”

    The Texas State Rifle Association has declared that they will not help pass an open carry bill. No help is forthcoming from the NRA. This is strictly a grassroots movement, and to be successful every Texan must contact his or her state representative and state senator.

    The best bill would simply strike PC Chapter 46 from the books — every word of it! Next best would be to add “concealed” to 46.02, so that only unlicensed concealed carry is forbidden (unlicensed open carry would be legal).

    Texans, call and write your state reps!

  16. CoxinSocks,
    Have you tried OC in Philadelphia?
    This is not snark, I am genuinely curious. Many moons ago, I had a job with a small armored car company, and had to carry on the job. This required state certification. My instructors advised us all to transport our sidearms to and from work in a brown paper bag, stapled shut(I am NOT making this up).
    This was long before state pre-emption normalized the permit process, so things may have changed.
    Stay safe

  17. Missouri is an Open Carry state as well—technically. However, when CCW was passed some years ago, the Antis started a moment at the local level to block open carry. Now the state is a patchwork of counties/municipalities where open carry is legal/illegal that you can’t be sure if it’s legal or not.

    So, we carry concealed and that is legal the entire state. Fortunately, Missouri has no law against an accidental flash of a weapon.

  18. You Can OC in Nebraska- Article I-1 of the State says you can keep and bear arms anywhere for a whole list of reasons, one of which is self-defense.

    Just don’t actually try it.

    In Omaha or some of the larger towns. Omaha has a specific ordinance sayin you have to get a permit from them (and register all handguns, to boot!) to OC, in direct violation of Article I-1….. the Law applies differently to those who have on staff legal counsel, apparently.

  19. As D.W. Drang says, Washingont is an open-carry state. I have done it a bit, though I normally carry concealed (65 bucks and a background check, required to carry a loaded pistol in a motor vehicle)

    For more information on the open carry movement, laws and experiences in various states, check out opencarry.org

  20. I believe that Ohio is also an open carry state, although it tends to draw official attention.

  21. OC is also legal in Oregon. Just had to jump on the bandwagon there…

  22. Actually, Dog had a couple of ancestors who would qualify for the “Old West gunslinger” appelation. None of them ended up in jail or Boot Hill, so I guess might and right went hand in hand back in the bad old days?
    Or maybe it was just that one of these ancestors actually outshot Frank James?…..
    Like C.S.P. Schofield, open carry doesn’t bother me nearly as much as the cellphones.
    We have a whole new mindset with the population which says that using a cellphone while driving, interrupting to answer while carrying on a conversation with a real present person, talking in the middle of a restaurant meal, etc. ad infinitum is ok and you don’t have to consider anything but the damned phone.
    All of which adds up to really bad manners.
    When I grow up, I’m going to have a restaurant that allows no children at all; in fact, no one under the age of 21-or, make that 30; no cellphones can darken my door, no one can bring a boombox or other noisemaker in, and a whole lot of other things.
    In other words, I’ll probably go broke in 6 months, but to hell with it. In that time, people WILL mind their manners or get shown the door. Rapidly.

  23. Personally I have nothing against open carry. Anyone who would be intimidated by someone carrying a gun lawfully deserves to crap their drawers. It would make it difficult for those rare individuals in the LEO fields who get off on making a lawful gun owner’s life miserable or worse by arresting them for “brandishing” if the jacket falls open for a moment or the gun prints through your pants when you bend the wrong way. But the tactical surprise of carrying concealed is probably more important than the speed at which an open carry weapon can be deployed, although circumstances may differ. Of course if you are carrying openly and your jacket partially conceals it, the same arseholes who would roust you for “brandishing” would roust you for carrying concealed without a permit too. With some people, you just can’t win.

  24. I didn't see much open carry when I lived in Virginia, but then again I lived in the part of the state other Virginians apologized for (Hampton Roads, which is home to PETA).

    It's not an issue which I have much of an opinion on, to be honest. Might make the BCSO's job a wee bit easier around here, if the gang-bangers started carrying openly. I think it's that specter that scares most of the anti people.

    I'd also love to see open carry on campus, if for no other reason (& I admit this is juvenile) to see the "concealed carry on campus would create an atmosphere which is not conducive to learning" contingent piddle themselves.

  25. Here in Indiana you can open carry. But in some areas the L.E.O.’s give you a hard time about it.

  26. “First off, the open-carrying Wild West had a murder rate considerably less than that of a modern big city…”

    When last I checked, the crime rate in the west was actually lower than many of big cities of the time as well.

    Oh and Delaware is a may issue CCDW, but open carry state. We even have state preemption since the mid ’80s.

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  28. Lawmom, I’d go to your restaurant.

    There’s a little horse tack shop that my wife goes to. They have a sign that says “Unattended children will be given an espresso, and a free puppy.” 🙂

    Here in the Great White North, open carry was legal until 1975. That’s when a few drunk-with-power liberal politicians put the kybosh on it. Nowadays, our Firearms Act still technically permits the issuance of a ccw permit if your life has been “threatened”, but really, it’s another “who you know” thing.

  29. Actually, the homicide rate in the “Old West” was almost invariably much lower than it is today. The exceptions were the towns run by the gamblers and criminals for gamblers and criminals. The so-called “Hell on Wheels” that accompanied the railroad construction crews West were fairly typical of the type.

    Of course, the railheads such as Dodge City and Abilene had their years. But subtract those killed in gang rivalries such Phil Coe, killed by Marshal “Duck Bill” Hickok, and the big cattle towns suddenly seem downright bucolic in comparison to the streets of most any modern city. And that is the more remarkable in that the drovers were almost all ex Confederates, who traded shots with the Yankee townspeople just a few years before.

    The same goes for El Paso, which set a record of seven homicides in one year. Again, turf wars.

    And yes, when the prey went elsewhere, the gamblers who preyed on them followed. To the Colorado mining camps and then to Tombstone for most of the Kansas gamblers such as the Earps and their cohorts. Other places for other “bad men.”

    Those who would like to read all about it would probably like Eugene Cunningham’s “Triggernometry.” A good read by someone who knew many of the major figures of the Real Old West personally.

    But open carry was not a problem in the “wild wild west.” And it’s still not a problem today.

    If Baja Oklahoma allows open carry I know a few places I would like to return to.

    Pete Allen

  30. When I was dating a gal that lived near Henderson I was amazed to learn that Texas wasn’t a open carry state.

    Y’all are still Texans, right?

  31. I remember that the hand-wringing panty-wetters screamed that it would be the wild-west-shootouts at every corner when Texas passed its’ concealed-carry law. What DID happen, though, is that the crime rate went DOWN, because all of a sudden, the critters weren’t sure who MIGHT be carrying (and a lot of ladies I knew were DEFINITELY packing in their purses!)

    The wild west shootouts didn’t happen then, so doubt that they’d happen with open carry. The crime rates will probably drop again, though.

    And, while it is TECHNICALLY legal to open carry here in Pennsylvania, I can just about guarantee you that the cops WILL be called, because someone was wetting their pants about it. (Saw it happen here–and the poor guy was on crutches, due to a missing leg, to boot.)

  32. A handgun securely holstered, especially one in a well designed “retention” holster is not a gun being “brandished”.

    And yes, I would include a requirement of positive retention in any legal, ‘open carry’ holster.

    My ‘slide’ holser is fine for CCW, but in the open, I’ll want at least a thumb-snap or such.

    Sloop New Dawn*
    Galveston, TX

    *sunk by Ike

  33. Well said, LD. “An armed society is a polite society.” I, too, am in favour of open carry, after a quick background check. On my last handgun purchase, I was in an out of the store in less than 30 minutes. I see no (legitimate) reason why we law-abiding citisens should not have both open and consealed carry. Please keep us posted on the progress of the bill to allow us this option.

  34. As someone who spent over 20 years in Arizona before moving to Big-D, I lament frequently the loss of my ability to openly carry a legal handgun.

    For that matter, most folks are incredulous when I tell them we can’t openly carry a handgun in Texas. To most people, the very spirit of Texas is that of a people that embrace their freedoms with both arms.

    As soon as this bill is introduced, I’ll be on the phone to my reps and the Governor voicing my support.

  35. Con: it seems to me that openly carrying a weapon — any weapon, of any kind — is intimidating to others in a way that concealed-carry isn’t. At least, it would be to me, because I know the person is armed, but I don’t know why. So I don’t know if, or how far, I can trust them.

    Wolfwalker, that makes no sense.

    You trust somebody when you don’t know whether they are armed or not… but DON’T trust when you can plainly see that they ARE armed?

    I’ve always been surprised that it’s outlawed in Texas. I mean, it’s TEXAS.

  36. Open carry without a license is also legal in Oregon, of all places. The exception is that municipalities can ban it for people without a CCL (but not for those with one), and the few largest blue cities do so.

    Two points, then. One, its worked out fine here. Two, when the state of Texas is out-conservatived by the state of Oregon, something has to give. Your laws or your street cred, one or the other.

  37. …haven’t post offices been expressly forbidden for carry via federal law for a long, long time? Over 60 years? It’s pretty well indicated that carry in a USPS Office gets the key thrown away as a felony.

    Not really.

    18 USC 930 provides that:

    (a) Except as provided in subsection (d), whoever knowingly possesses or causes to be present a firearm or other dangerous weapon in a Federal facility (other than a Federal court facility), or attempts to do so, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 1 year, or both.


    (d) Subsection (a) shall not apply to –


    (3) the lawful carrying of firearms or other dangerous weapons in a Federal facility incident to hunting or other lawful purposes.

    Naturally, the sign at the post office never includes the exception in subsection (d).

    So the question is this: Is peaceably carrying for self defense, in accordance with state law, a lawful purpose or an unlawful one?

    Seems simple to me.

    I do not advise my students to carry in a post office, though. The postal cops have a different view of the law than I do, and I’m not Alan Gura.

  38. Gang bangers aren’t going to open carry. They’ll just continue illegally carrying, concealed, without permits (or the ability to lawfully purchase their guns in the first place, in many of their cases).

    And because gang bangers tend to be big, slimy cowards, I imagine that they’ll be more choosy of their potential targets when they see citizens open carrying. These infectious piles of vomit don’t prefer fair fights. Or unfair-to-them fights.

    Besides: open carry requires a holster. How often do you hear of, or see, gang bangers buying or stealing holsters? Not often. They jam their “foties” down their pants and sometimes, much to my amusement, hook the triggers and render themselves incapable of reproducing.

    As far as not trusting somebody who’s open carrying: if my firearm is secured in my holster, I’m not threatening anybody. Just because you see my firearm doesn’t mean that I’m doing anything that you should be worried about.

  39. Bowie knives are also illegal to carry in polite company here in Texas. How’s that for ironic? These laws are probably the result of townsfolk in boom towns getting tired of the roughnecks and/or cowboys ventilating each other as the apex of the night’s entertainment.

    I came of CCW age in Florida, where even an accidental display of your roscoe is considered brandishment. That still colors my perceptions on the matter. Open CCW would be kind of cool, but I’d want a darn good retention holster and even then I’d still opt for concealment in most cases.

  40. Here’s the second prong in the Disarm the Populace approach: http://ammunitionaccountability.org/

    “Accountability” means that they number-stamp each piece of ammo sold and make it illegal to own un-stamped ammo. Cuz, as we all know, every gang-banger and random goblin *always* buys his ammo at Cabella’s using his very own ID.


  41. Even if open carry were legal, I do not think it is the better option for a CCW/CHL holder. When the bad guys have a knife/gun on you, they will always be watching for your movement towards your gun. They will be more interested in stealing your gun than anything else. If you concealed carrying, there are several ways to fool the opponents before pulling out your Glock – misdirection is the key.
    On the other hand, if you are openly carrying, the smart thing to do is to carry a concealed primary weapon also. In this case, make no motion towards your open weapon giving the thugs a false sense of security while reaching for your concealed weapon. In other words, your open weapon provides the necessary misdirection!

  42. As a sworn, certified LEO in the largest city in Texas I can tell you that I support open carry as I have been a 2nd Amendment proponent much longer than I have had a badge. As to abolishing Penal Code Ch 46, not a good idea… change yes, abolish no. I don’t think any of us would condone allowing Felons to possess firearms or to allow for those incarcerated in penal institutions to be allowed to arm themselves (both covered by statutes under Ch 46). Understand though, for open carry, you will probably be “hassled” by LEO’s BASED ON TIME, LOCATION, and BEHAVIOR. Bright sunny day, minding your own business, walking through a parking lot… probably going to let you go on your way. 3am, high narcotics/high crime area, skulking in the bushes… I will definently have questions about that pistol on your hip and your criminal history BASED ON YOUR CONDUCT. But understand that this is basic crime intervention and upheld by the Supreme Court… the fact that you are open carrying is the same in both… enjoy the debate, hope to hear back.

  43. To the LEO that posted that it wouldn't be good to let felons own or carry guns – consider this – criminals by their very nature do not obey the law, so what good is it to pass a law that prohibits them from owning a gun? If they want one, they'll find a way to get one, no matter how may laws exist that say it's illegal for them to do so.

  44. we already have permission in Texas to open carry. Its called the 2nd amendment and I carry it everywhere I go in my wallet. If you dont think we have that right already, then explain to me which Texas law prohibits it and how that law, if it exists, does not infringe on my right to bear arms in the constitution. If it infringes on the 2nd amendment, the law is invalid and unconstitutional. If you dont like that, then amend the constitution..dont try to pass some bogus law

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  46. That's simple, Anonymous. The Second Amendment of the Federal Bill of Rights merely applies to federal law. The Second Amendment has never been incorporated to the States (although it's important to note that it may be soon).

    Now that leaves us with State Constitutions. Nearly every State has a RKBA clause in their consitutions, Texas is no different. Article 1, Section 23 reads:

    "RIGHT TO KEEP AND BEAR ARMS. Every citizen shall have the right to keep and bear arms in the lawful defense of himself or the State; but the Legislature shall have power, by law, to regulate the wearing of arms, with a view to prevent crime."

    So, Chapter 46 of the Penal Code is NOT unconstitutional, is perfectly legal, and will ensure lots of hot water for washing and other purposes if you get caught OCing. Your only chance to wiggle out of that is to challenge the law on the basis that it does not "prevent crime", the condition which the Constitution requires it to be legal. Not hard to do, prohibiting OC indeed does not prevent crime and IS patently illegal, but I know I certainly wouldn't want to be the test case.

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