Law Enforcement Concerned Over Unclear Protocol With Open-carry Policy
Amidst the national debate regarding gun control after President Obama initiated executive action, Texas became the country's 45th open-carry state in the U.S. on January 1 of 2016. The law that went into effect allows licensed gun owners to visibly carry a handgun in public spaces. There are exceptions to the rule, however, as people cannot openly carry firearms at schools, bars, voting locations, correctional facilities sporting events and certain areas in airports. But private businesses reserve the right to deter customers with a visible handgun by posting a specific sign on the premises. The problem, according to business owners, is that it will polarize their customers one way or the other.
Shane Peterson, who works for a hardware store in grand Prairie had this to say on FOX News:
It’s pretty tough. As a business owner, you alienate one group and they stop shopping with you. You alienate another group and they stop shopping with you, and it’s a lose-lose.
And when it comes to law enforcement, the situation is even muggier.
Texas Municipal Police Association, the largest police union in the state, doesn't necessarily oppose the open-carry policy, but has concerns over how and when peace officers can check if the gun owner has the appropriate permit to do so.
Executive Director of TMPA Kevin Lawrence spoke with reporter Casey Stegall stating his concerns:
What authority [do] the officers have? We need to get that clarified as much as possible so the officers know what’s expected of them going into any given situation.
In an interview with Stegall he said:
If you're a cosmetologist you have to display your license. If you're selling alcoholic beverages you have to display that license to sell alcoholic beverages. Why shouldn't you have to display that license to carry that firearm?