On June 13, Texas Governor Gregg Abbott signed legislation which would allow licensed handgun owners in the state to openly carry in public places.
On Wednesday, Precinct 2 Constable Chris Diaz participated in a town hall meeting at the Alvin Baggett Recreation Center in Galena Park to outline what that law means.
The discussion was part of an open community forum in which State Representative Ana Hernandez presented a comprehensive overview of the last legislative session and State Senator Sylvia Garcia highlighted a bill she authored targeting ‘revenge porn.’ The bill, which passed unanimously, makes it class A misdemeanor for a person to post or display explicit images of an ex on the Internet.
Garcia also explained the primary reason she voted against the state budget, saying it focused too heavily on border security and not enough on education and expansion of Medicaid.
“We can’t find money for things that everybody in Texas needs and everything we need to help working people, but we can find money for border security,” she said.
While neither Rep. Hernandez or Senator Garcia touched on the issue, the new open-carry legislation was at the center of Wednesday’s meeting.
Constable Diaz provided a crash course on the new law which goes into effect January 2016.
The legislation will allow Texans with licenses to openly carry handguns in a shoulder or hip holster in public. Under the current law, Texans who want to carry their guns must have a concealed handgun license and keep the firearm hidden.
Diaz stressed education.
“As the senator said, I’m all about education,” he said. “If we’re going to have the open-carry we need to make sure we educate our people and we need to educate our officers. If we’re going to have this, we need to move forward and move with the times.”
Constable Diaz spoke of his two sons, a 16-year-old and a nine-year-old, both of whom, he said, know how to operate a gun, and emphasized safety and proper training.
“I educated them at home with firearms,” he said. “I don’t have to worry about them going into the house and picking up the gun and accidentally shooting somebody or accidentally going off in the house.”
Diaz compared a driver’s license to a concealed gun license.
“Do you drive every day? Do you take your gun out daily and shoot that gun? Do you get comfortable with it like you do with your car? Do you know how to turn your blinker on? Do you know how to take it out of the holster? Do you time yourself? It’s the same thing,” he said. “Get comfortable with that gun.”
Precinct 2 Lt. Fred Taylor gave a crash course on the various types of holsters and how to select the proper one according to body type, make of gun and other factors.
“Make sure the holster fits you, and is comfortable and make sure you find one that’s going to fit where you plan on carrying the weapon,” he said.
Texas is the 45th state to have some form of open-carry legislation with varying restrictions and requirements.
The legislation would also allow law enforcement to stop someone who was openly carrying a handgun to check for a gun license. A previous version of the law would have prohibited officers from doing so.