Texas legalized open carry for handguns six months ago, and the fears of blood in the streets and chaos haven’t materialized: police haven’t noticed an uptick in crime or death.
Texas has had open carry for rifles legal for decades, and with handguns in the same legal standing, it “hasn’t spawned any major incidents,” according to The Texas Tribune.
Though the state allowed conceal-and-carry for handguns, it barred open carry until the law passed in January. Texas became the 45th state to allow open carry, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Gun control advocates and police officers came out in force of open carry in Texas. In a statewide survey, 75 percent of police chiefs in Texas opposed open carry, the Journal noted. Police cited possible confusion arising from citizens openly carrying and concern about the public panicking at the sight of a gun. In a similar vein, Mother Jones blamed open carry laws for making mass shootings “more dangerous.”
Though recent shootings, such as Dallas where police officers were targeted, have been linked by opponents to open carry laws, the data doesn’t show that open carry laws have driven an increase in violence.
“We were convinced the streets were gonna run red with blood. We were opposed to it,” Kevin Lawrence, executive director of the Texas Municipal Police Association, told the Tribune. “And sure enough, we were wrong.”
The biggest issue, it seems, has been gun owners complaining that their rights have not been respected.
“Gun rights advocates have filed dozens of complaints with the state over what they believe to be unfair restrictions on open carry in public places,” Kirby Wilson wrote.
Some advocates of conceal-and-carry laws worry that open carry undermines support for gun rights. In Texas, some private businesses were prohibiting conceal-and-carry along with open carry. The expansion of open carry in Texas effectively restricted conceal carry.
While that damages the political goals of gun rights advocates, the preliminary data from open carry is encouraging for the public. Gun owners have stayed within the bounds of the law without driving a spike in violence or crime.