In a victory for pro-gun activists in Texas, the state’s so-called “permitless carry” law went into effect on Sept. 1.
Signed by Gov. Greg Abbott on June 16, House Bill 1927 allows Texans to carry holstered handguns in public without permits or training provided that the holder is not prohibited by state or federal law from possessing firearms. This unqualified cohort includes people convicted of certain felonies or violent crimes, people named as subjects of a protective order and people who are deemed by a court to be too mentally incompetent to possess a firearm.
The law also mandates that handgun licenses cannot be revoked if a licensee in otherwise good legal standing has previously been convicted of unlawfully carrying a weapon.
Those in possession of a holstered handgun must be at least 21 years of age and, if on another person’s private property, have consent from the owner to carry it in plain view.
“We support the right of every law-abiding American to be able to have a weapon to defend themselves,” said Abbott upon signing the bill. “That is different from teenagers unlawfully getting access to guns to commit crimes. Those are people who deserve to be behind bars for the rest of their lives.”
Bill Mischke, a Flower Mound-based Israeli Combat Shooting (ICS) Instructor, has been teaching self defense for over 20 years and recently hosted a radio show that discussed topics including the second amendment. He said the new law makes him a little bit concerned.
“I understand and I support the second amendment,” he said, “but I’m concerned that people might be not getting the training they need and carrying a weapon without having adequate training.”
Mischke said he recommended that those interested in getting a firearm still maintain and get a license to carry. He said doing so teaches basic firearm handling as well as understanding when it is justified to draw or shoot a weapon, as well as the consequences of shooting a weapon.
Mischke, who teaches shooting self defense, said his class teaches people to use their handgun in self defense situations.
“Merely having a handgun is not self defense,” he said.
When it comes to the impact on the general public, Mischke said it will be “almost nothing.”
“Some people will maybe try it for a while because it’s new and because they can, but most people, even if they try it for a while, will probably give up on it after a while because it takes away from your comfort level,” Mischke said. “If you’re carrying a weapon, it can interfere with you being comfortable while you’re sitting, while you’re in your car, and after a while, people are going to say, for the most part, unless they have a reason to carry, (they) are going to not carry.”
Meanwhile, two police chiefs have said they don’t think the law will negatively impact crime rates.
“I think it is important to note that the new law is not as drastic as some people make it sound,” Interim Mesquite Police Chief David Faaborg said. “The biggest change that the new law makes is that it eliminates the need for a law-abiding citizen to get a license to carry a handgun responsibly. The changes to the law do not legalize all of the reckless ways that people misuse guns.”
Faaborg said those who use guns inappropriately or recklessly have still violated the law, and they will be arrested.
“The license to carry ensures that a person who is legally carrying a handgun has had at least some training, but it certainly doesn’t guarantee that the person is a good gun owner or carrier any more than a driver’s license guarantees that a person is a good driver,” Faaborg said “I highly recommend that anyone who chooses to carry a handgun should ensure that they know how to use it as well as when and why they should use it, even if they don’t legally have to.”
Faaborg said Mesquite PD will continue to vigorously enforce the law and will continue to focus on illegal gun use.
“I do not expect that the new law will have a significant impact on crime rates within the city,” he said.
Carrollton Police Chief Derick Miller said he does not believe the new law will adversely affect crime rates in the city.
“I certainly encourage responsible gun ownership, but as with any new law it is simply our duty to enforce House Bill 1927 now that it has taken effect,” Miller said.
Miller added when concealed carry and open carry took effect, the police saw no discernable bump in crime.
“My charge to our officers to proactively protect our community remains the same,” Miller said. “Although I will say there is definitely a learning curve for all of us when new laws take effect. More than 600 new laws took effect in Texas on Sept. 1, 2021. Eighteen of them are related to firearms.”