One of the go-to arguments of opponents of Constitutional Carry is that by removing the requirement that legal gun owners be licensed to carry, police will have no idea who can or can’t bear arms lawfully. That was an oft-repeated claim during the recent debates in states like Ohio, Alabama, Georgia, and Indiana, with gun control activists and some law enforcement figures chiding supporters of Constitutional Carry for allegedly allowing prohibited persons to carry a gun without consequence.
Gun owners have pointed out Constitutional Carry is already in place in more than 20 states, and not one of them has seen fit to repeal the law after it was approved, which is a pretty good sign that the law is not the apocalyptic harbinger of doom painted by critics. As it turns out, police in Constitutional Carry states are still seizing illegally possessed guns and arresting those caught with them. In fact, in Austin, Texas there’ve been dozens of arrests this month alone.
Kenneth Casaday, president of the Austin Police Association, said these arrests and seizures of guns prove APD is working aggressively to address gun violence downtown.
“From what I understand, over the last five days down in the Sixth Street area, they seized over 50 firearms. And then I think 19 last night before we even had a shooting. So I know the officers are doing their jobs, and they have been for a long period of time. The problem is, we’re not prosecuting people, we’re arresting people for felon in possession of a firearm, unlawfully carrying a weapon,” Casaday said.
Casaday isn’t a big fan of the state’s Constitutional Carry law, but at least he can acknowledge that it’s not preventing police from arresting those illegally carrying a firearm. The bigger issue, at least based on his comments, is what happens after an arrest has been made. How many cases are plea bargained down to a slap on the wrist, and how many cases are simply dismissed outright by prosecutors?
One of the components of Texas’ Constitutional Carry law actually increased criminal penalties for felons and other prohibited persons found in possession of a firearm, but if those cases aren’t being prosecuted then the tougher sentences aren’t going to have much of a deterrent effect.
While Casaday says he wants to see a training requirement imposed before gun owners can legally carry in public, the head of the Austin Police Association also seemed to admit that legal gun owners aren’t the individuals who are driving the violence in the Texas capitol.
Casaday also noted increased gang activity downtown coming in from other cities across the state.
“We do get a lot of gang members from Houston, San Antonio, Killeen, Dallas, that come here to commit crimes. And, you know, we have to stay on top of that, but it’s very hard, we have a department that’s shrinking and not growing, and our cities growing at a rapid pace,” he explained.
Austin voters last year rejected a referendum that would have increased the number of police officers in the city, and the local District Attorney is a progressive prosecutor hoping to “reimagine” the criminal justice system. Texas’ Constitutional Carry law isn’t impeding police, but the far-left policies and practices in blue cities like Austin may very well be getting in the way of ensuring that violent criminals and repeat offenders face real consequences for their actions.