Such historic times in which we live. As of January 1, 2016, the [licensed] open carry of handguns will, for the first time since the Civil War, be legal in the State of Texas. As opposing sides either rejoice in victory or whimper in defeat, I think a few obvious questions present themselves; most notably, what does this mean?
For the twenty-seven million people living in the Lone Star State, this new paradigm won’t mean much in practical terms. In Texas, there are about 914,000 folks with a concealed handgun license (CHL). That means roughly 4% of all Texans will be eligible to open carry. Of the current CHL holders, many of us do not carry on a regular basis and many have no interest in taking advantage of this new law. Because most Texans will rarely, if ever, even witness a civilian openly carrying a handgun, the practical significance shall be minimal. There are other ways, though, in which open carry will indeed have an impact.
The self-defense enthusiast in me salutes those advocates who just achieved an historic, if not symbolic, victory for the cause of gun rights. Peaceful people in the nation’s second most populous state – to include the country’s fourth and fifth largest metropolitan areas – will soon be allowed to carry handguns in plain view; meaning firearms can be worn more comfortably and accessed more easily. For those planning to open carry - comfort and accessibility are critical. And in the larger context of safety and security, I think this is an even more important development.
The open carry of firearms is sure to spark up a conversation or two. And it is these discussions in which fear and hysteria can be replaced with awareness and understanding. An inquiry as simple as, “Why are you carrying that gun?” can lead to a breadth of insight on self-ownership and self-reliance. The answer to, “Is that really necessary?” might bring some perspective about the world in which we live. And a witty retort such as, “Do you take issue with police officers open carrying?” can shed light upon the blatant hypocrisy espoused by every gun control advocate I've ever known.
So whether seen as a crime deterrent or a conversation starter, this expansion of gun rights represents a win – not just for individual liberty, but for critical thinking itself. And that, beloved, is what I call a beautifulsituation™.