In April of this year the House of Representatives passed an open carry bill that would allow Texans to carry their firearms in a holster on their shoulder or on their hip. But the bill has caused a lot of controversy among Texans on whether open carry is safe or not.
Texan Larry Tedder feels strongly about his second amendment right, stating, "I think it's right, I mean, you have the right to defend yourself, everyone has that right."
James Allison, of Longview, TX, said, "Some of the people that go and they take the classes to carry the guns, once they get the gun they still might not act as responsible as they should be."
George Zimmerman of Midland, believes that open carry could cause more violence, stating, "There's a lot of them that if they had a gun instead of a baseball bat, there'd be a lot more people shot."
But it's not just citizens that are up in arms about open carry, many non-profits have joined in on the debate. Organizations like "Open Carry Texas" supports the bill but also aims to inform Texans on the safety and legality of carrying guns openly. But other organizations like the Violence Policy Center focus on the death tolls and injuries that have been caused by firearms in an attempt to reduce gun violence.
NewsWest 9 spoke with local law enforcement to find out how open carry could affect public safety."It definitely could be a major deterrent upon crime, someone could possibly be less likely to rob a place or commit some sort of crime if they see someone that has a gun with them," said Steve LeSueur, with the Odessa Police Department.
Currently Texans can carry rifles and shotguns openly and carry concealed only with a license but the proposed open carry bill would allow CHL holders the right to carry openly in most public places with the exception of businesses where guns are prohibited. To open carry, you would have to be of legal age and be able to pass a background check, but the most important requirement is licensing.
Danny Anderson, Manager of S&K Arms, said, "Right now, this law only affects people that already have their concealed carry license. So only current CHL holders will be able to carry openly, so as far as the number of people you'll see carrying openly, it will be a small percentage of the population."
Many Texans who are for open carry are also fighting for the right to constitutional carry which gives Texans to right to carry without a license. "It does give gun owners more freedom, but ultimately the issue at stake is whether or not you should have to pay a tax to exercise your second amendment rights and that's what the whole licensing procedure is," said Anderson.