New bill permits open carry


Savannah Whitmer

At McKinney trade days local gun owners are prohibited by many businesses from openly carrying weapons.

Savannah Whitmer, News Editor

For Texans, the new year brought more than just new resolutions. Since Jan. 1, Texas residents have been allowed by state law to openly carry weapons. For the last two decades, licensed Texans have been permitted to carry a concealed weapon in most public areas. Now, however, gun rights advocates have gained considerable ground.

“Today I am proud to expand liberty in the Lone Star State,” said Governor Greg Abbott to Breitbart, shortly after signing House Bill 910. “By signing these bills into law, Texans can be assured that their Second Amendment rights will be stronger and more secure than ever before.”

While supporters of the law believe that allowing licensed gun owners to openly carry their weapons is a step forward towards Constitutional rights, opponents argue that the law is bound to create an unsafe or intimidating public environment.

For the two weeks that the law has been in effect, however, the most significant change has been the reaction of local businesses. The debate surrounding the law has caused popular businesses like Whole Foods, Walmart, and H-E-B to reevaluate their policies towards gun-carrying customers.

“We feel customers and employees will feel safer when people are not openly walking around with guns,” said Anna Kehde, the Texas chapter leader of Moms Demand Action For Gun Sense in America to the New York Times. “It’s hard to tell who is a responsible gun owner and who is someone I should seek cover from.”

Signs can be seen outside of many businesses clarifying those policies. Some businesses, like Whataburger, will still allow customers to carry concealed weapons, but will not permit any openly holstered guns.

“We’ve had many customers and employees tell us they’re uncomfortable being around someone with a visible firearm who is not a member of law enforcement,” Whataburger CEO Preston Atkinson said in a statement. “As a business, we have to listen and value that feedback in the same way we value yours. We have a responsibility to make sure everyone who walks into our restaurants feels comfortable.”

Other businesses, however, are not worried about the change in law.

“We support it,” Lucas Walmart manager Ernad Salic said. “As long as there’s no suspicious activity, and the customer is abiding by the law, it’s fine here. It hasn’t really been a big deal so far.”

A few activists have claimed that the law has actually backfired, saying that the increased attention to gun carrying has led some businesses to take a side on the political issue.

“The ‘concealed’ part of concealed carry may have made it easy for business owners to just not think much about who is or isn’t toting a gun,” Dallas News blogger Jacquielynn Floyd wrote in a January article. “Now, with open carry as the law, they must be explicitly clear. Anecdotally, unhappy posters at the pro-gun site report a rash of businesses putting up new signs banning both concealed and open firearms.”

Gun rights will continue to be a hot topic, especially for students, as concealed carrying will be allowed on college campuses starting August 1.

“If I saw someone in public with a huge gun strapped to their body, I would not be reminded of freedom,” senior Bella Cano said. “Actually, it would be pretty scary. I can understand having a little gun in a bag for personal safety, but I just don’t think it’s necessary or smart to have a gun in the open.”