Texas Allows Anyone to Openly Carry a Gun

Social Justice Policy Brief #25 | By: S Bhimji | September 6, 2021

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Photo taken from: Houston Chronicle

Policy Summary

There is no question about it- crime is up in almost every major city. Carjackings, random shootings, home burglaries, and violence are everyday news. While some folks want to defund the police, Texas has decided that it is time to take care of the problem at its core. Recently, the Lone Star state passed a law that permits individuals to carry handguns in public without any training or a permit.

The general belief among many Texas who supported this law is that this is perhaps the best way to prevent crime. And better still, an armed citizen can help prevent mass shootings and/or stop the ‘bad’ guy in his tracks.

The permitless Carry law was enacted by Gov Greg Abbot this summer and was vigorously supported by the citizens of the state. Almost everyone is been fed up with the high crime in most major cities in Texas, including the southern border.

This law will allow Texans to carry guns without any major interference from the federal government. Texas has already permitted its citizens to carry rifles in public without a license.

Said Bethany Young, legislative director for Texas Gun Rights, “Best case scenario, the police are minutes away. But you need protection right then and there if you’re in danger. So, it’s going to make us safe.”

Policy Analysis

So will the permitless Carry Law make Texans safer? Unfortunately, the research suggests otherwise. In the past, such laws have resulted in higher crime rates. The key reason for the lack of safety is not because the bad guys will start shooting first but there will be many people walking around with guns and any minor argument may be settled with the gun. Plus it is rather obvious that with more guns around, the chances of the bad guys stealing weapons is also high.

Texas is not alone with the permitless Carry law; it joins at least 2 dozen states that have some form of unregulated handgun possession.

With the new law, any Texan over the age of 21 who has not been convicted of felonies can now carry a holstered handgun in public; without needing a permit, undergoing a state background check, or even getting basic gun safety training.

While robust data on how such laws impact crime are not yet available, some retrospective observational studies indicate that gun violence does increase by 10-15% in states that have open carry laws.

Said Sven Smith, an assistant sociology professor at Stetson University in Florida, “The United States is following the traditional notion of fighting fire with fire. The best defense is a good offense, that type of mentality. But the overwhelming preponderance of the statistics, though they’re not for certain and they’re not conclusive … they only point one way.”


Photo taken from: truthout.org

The liberalization to carry handguns is also known to boost gun sales and this is a worry for local enforcement. Last year, in Houston alone, nearly 3,000 guns were stolen from vehicles, and many of these stolen firearms were used in homicides, shootings, and violent crimes.

There is also a worry that without proper training and education of the gun owner, the guns may not be safely stored at home and there is a chance that a child or a family member may get injured.

Just this year alone in several Texas cities, there have been many instances of road rage, petty arguments in grocery stores and gas stations that have been settled with guns rather than communication. In fact, strangers who have knocked on residential doors in Texas to ask for directions have been met with gunfire.

Finally, in 2018-2019, close to 5.0% or nearly 1.0 million adults in Texas have reported an unmet need for mental health treatment. And if some of these folks were to get hold of a gun, the least likely problem Texans would have to fear is the ‘bad’ guys.’

Engagement Resources​

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U.S. Gun Policy: Global Comparisons


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