DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – The new year means new gun laws across Texas. Open Carry is now in effect, meaning that all licensed gun owners throughout the state can begin carrying their weapons in plain sight. The new law impacts approximately 914,000 Texans who are licensed to carry.
But do not expect to see guns out in the open everywhere you go.
Those gun owners can now have their holstered firearms visible rather than keeping them concealed. This law has raised a lot of debate and questions about how prevalent guns will now be in the public.
Jared Sloane is the operator of Shoot Smart Indoor Range & Training Center in Grand Prairie. He does not expect to see much of a change in customer preferences. “I think people will continue to conceal carry,” Sloane explained, “at least predominantly, because they’re just not interested in advertising that they’re carrying firearms.”
There are restrictions on Open Carry as well.
The law bans handguns from hospitals, jails and some places where alcohol is served. Businesses also have the option to ban a customer for carrying a gun. Several shopping malls have already said that they will remain weapon-free including North East Mall, Grapevine Mills Mall, Collin Creek Mall and Galleria Dallas.
Other shopping areas are split. Grocery store chain H-E-B said that it will ban guns, however, Kroger will allow its shoppers to openly carry firearms.
Handguns are also prohibited from city council and governmental meetings in Dallas, along with sporting events.
Dallas Area Rapid Transit is allowing riders to openly carry firearms on board their trains and buses, but the drivers are being given permission to use discretion. The new rules state that a DART driver may stop a bus or train and call DART police when someone with a gun gets on board. Police can then ask to see the gun owner’s ID and license.
Police expect to receive more 911 calls initially, as people adjust to the new sight of guns in the public. But authorities said that the only reasons to call for help is if the gun owner has removed a weapon from its holster, if the gun owner is intoxicated or if the armed person is actually committing a crime.
The Dallas Police Department has not received any complaints so far.
Several cities across DFW will be holding forums to address the concerns of community members. Consult your area’s website for more information about such events. It is worth noting that Open Carry is different from Campus Carry, which does not go into effect until August.