A new open carry gun law in Texas officially goes into effect on January 1. The new law allows Texas residents who hold a concealed gun license to carry a weapon in plain sight.
In a related Inquisitr report, Virginia is tightening handgun laws by revoking gun permit reciprocity agreements with 25 other states as of February 1. The change is expected to negatively impact over six million concealed carry permit holders in the state.
The 925,726 Texas residents who currently have a concealed weapon license will be permitted to openly carry a gun beginning Friday as long as the weapon is secured in a shoulder or belt holster.
However, the new Texas gun law signed by Governor Greg Abbott still prohibits guns within certain establishments. Hospitals, correctional facilities, and some places where alcohol is served are still off limits.
The legislation permits businesses to ban customers from carrying guns inside by posting signs on the entrances. The signs must have specific phrasing in both English and Spanish. Anyone who disregards the signs could be prosecuted for trespassing and be subject to fines and other penalties.
Businesses throughout Texas are preparing for the new open carry law
The Texas office of the National Federation of Independent Business represents 24,000 small business members throughout the state. Spokesperson, Sarah Tober, said the organization is getting mixed reactions to the new open carry law. Some businesses support it while others are opposed.
Grocery store Whole Foods will continue to prohibit firearms except for certain personnel and law enforcement. The Austin-based company is not making any changes to its already long-standing gun ban policy.
Another popular grocery store, H-E-B, will allow concealed handguns, but not open carry. A company spokesperson said the chain has always permitted concealed weapons and has never had a problem. The only significant change they are making is updated signage.
Fast food restaurant, Whataburger, will not allow open carry in any of its 780 Texas locations. CEO Preston Atkinson stated that concealed handguns are still allowed, but customers have voiced opposition to seeing others within the establishment carrying an exposed firearm.
Houston-area restaurant, Gringo’s Mexican Kitchen is resistant to the new law, but they will still allow a concealed gun.
“We’re primarily a family environment in terms of our restaurant. And so we decided it’s probably best not to allow open carry,” said Al Flores, who represents Gringo’s. “We just felt that knowing our customers, allowing someone to walk in openly carrying a weapon, it would make them feel a little uncomfortable.”
Some establishments seem to support the new gun law
United Bank of El Paso del Norte will continue to allow guns in their branches concealed or otherwise. CEO, Les Parker, doesn’t believe it will be a concern for customers as many probably carry concealed weapons now.
First Baptist Church of Arlington will allow its 2,500 worshippers to open carry.
“We decided it was best to allow responsible people to do this if they choose,” Senior Pastor Dennis Wiles said. “We will probably assess the situation in a couple of months to see how it goes. When it comes to a church, I don’t think we’re going to see that much difference.”
Some national chains like Walmart and Starbucks have not publicly stated how the new open carry law in Texas will affect store locations within the state. In July 2014, Target officials said they do not want firearms brought into any store location, yet they have not posted any signs prohibiting customers from doing so.
Many Texans have indicated that despite the new open carry law, they will probably keep their guns concealed. Many licensed individuals simply do not want the added attention that comes with having a gun in plain sight.
Some Texas law enforcement officers say if someone is openly carrying a gun, they will assume the person is properly licensed and not ask to see the permit.
“We’re going to assume they’re a license holder, probably,” Austin Police Department training commander Andy Michael told ABC News.
As of January 1, there are 45 states, including Texas, that have laws that permit open carry of handguns. California, Florida, Illinois, New York, and South Carolina still prohibit the practice.
For the first time since the end of the Civil War, properly-licensed citizens will be able to publicly display a gun under the new open carry law in Texas.
[Photo by George Frey/Getty Images]