Will today signal a return to the Wild West? A peek into a dystopian, gunmaggedonesque future? Or will it be just another Wednesday in the Lone Star State?
My guess is more the latter than the former, though now that legal gun owners in Texas can carry without a government-issued license, I’m sure there’ll be more folks choosing to do so. And while gun control advocates are doing their best to scare the bejeebers out of their followers and volunteers, many law enforcement officers say they’re not expecting any problems with permitless carry.
“The core laws that was the big premise of this thing was that this doesn’t change a single thing other than that you no longer have to get a license,” said Lubbock County Sheriff Kelly Rowe. “Any and all existing laws on the books that apply to gang members, felons, whatever the case, none of that’s changed.”
Opponents of the bill, which included the Texas Police Chiefs Association, said the bill posed a risk to the public and law enforcement.
“At a time when violent crime is increasing in Texas and the State is trying to meet the challenges related to mass attacks in public places, increasing gang and drug related violence in major urban areas, and a high number of arrested and/or convicted felony offenders committing crimes after their release, it seems imprudent to support legislation that allows for unlicensed carry,” reads a letter the association sent to legislators in May.
Rowe said he didn’t foresee any major issues stemming from the new bill and remembers hearing similar concerns when legislators approved the concealed carry law.
“You know, every time one of these issues comes up it’s kind of like everybody holds their breath for a minute thinking somethings going to happen and at the end of the day, I don’t think it’s proving up anywhere that it’s (a problem),” he said.
Rowe is correct in pointing out that Texas isn’t the first Constitutional Carry state. More than a dozen other states had already adopted permitless carry before this year’s legislative session, and four other states joined Texas in approving their own Constitutional Carry laws this year. None of them have had any major issues since their law took effect, but that won’t stop many gun control activists from freaking out and melting down today.
I expect to hear a lot from them about how the lack of firearms training is going to make the state a more dangerous place, but I don’t think that’s an accurate assessment of most Texas gun owners. Still, I’m willing to get a second opinion, so we’ll be speaking to Michael Cargill, owner of the Central Texas Gun Works in Austin on today’s Bearing Arms’ Cam & Co to get his take on the new Constitutional Carry law and the impact that it might have on firearms training.
As for the idea that criminals, including felony offenders, are going to be more likely to carry a gun now, I just don’t see it. Nothing has changed for those who’ve forfeited their right to keep and bear arms because of their previous criminal behavior, and frankly, most violent criminals were already carrying illegally. It was against the law for them do so yesterday, and it’ll be against the law for them to do so today. And of course the new permitless carry law doesn’t change any of the statutes on the books regarding the criminal misuse of a firearm.
Constitutional Carry won’t usher in some utopian crime-free era in Texas, but supporters never claimed that it would. Instead, the law will simply allow those who can legally own a gun to lawfully carry one. Criminals will still be around, and they’ll continue to prey on those they view as easy and expedient targets. Hopefully, however, there’ll be fewer unarmed victims around, and more Texans who are willing and able to defend themselves and their loved ones if the need arises.