Thousands sign petition to make Texas an open-carry state

06-24-2008, 01:55 PM

Thousands sign petition to make Texas an open-carry state

If Duane Suddeth had his way, he could strap on a handgun and wear it ó anytime, anywhere ó without concealing it.

That day has not come in Texas, but the 42-year-old Bedford man is among thousands hoping it is on its way.

"This is the publicís right," Suddeth said. "Whether they choose to exercise that or not is up to them."

Texas, despite its independence and frontier reputation, is one of only six states where handguns cannot ó in some form ó legally be worn in plain view.

Suddeth is among a group of residents wanting to change that who have joined a growing nationwide "open-carry" movement.

Some say it harks back to constitutional rights and frontier days when settlers carried their weapons where everyone could see them.

"It was considered part of everyday life back then," said John Pierce, co-founder of, a champion of the effort. "The concealed-carry part was what was looked at with disdain."

In Texas, where residents may carry concealed handguns if they have a permit, more than 3,500 people have signed an online petition asking Gov. Rick Perry and the Legislature to make Texas an open-carry state.

"Cowboys and Indians, and the Alamo ó and many just assumed that Texas was an open-carry state," wrote Gary Williams, one of many Texans advocating for gun law change. "Clearly, there are some changes that need to be made."

Gun safety advocates arenít so sure.

"What are they trying to do? Go back to Texas gunslinger days?" asked Richard Leal, a board member of the Houston-based Texans for Gun Safety. "Things are bad enough as it is, with people 18 and older being authorized to carry guns."

The open-carry effort

Many states such as Texas do have concealed handgun rules and permits in place.

But many also have open-carry rules, unlike Texas, along with New York, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Florida, South Carolina and Washington, D.C., according to

Dozens of states either issue licenses for open carry or allow the practice without any license, according to the Web site.

"The concealed-carry movement that swept the country in past decades has been a great benefit to law-abiding citizens to be able to protect themselves in an uncertain world," Pierce said. "But we are trying to re-educate people that open carry is . . . a basic gun right."

The Texas Citizens Defense League, of which Williams and Suddeth are members, is trying to get the word out.

Part of that is the petition that asks that all people who may legally buy a handgun also be allowed to carry it openly, except in places prohibited by law.

"I canít count the times I have been in some discussion about open carry in some Northern state . . . and somebody says, 'Hey, this is not . . . Texas,í " said Mike Stollenwerk, co-founder of

"And I respond, 'Thankfully you are correct, as open carry is banned in Texas.í "

Texas reaction

Any change to the law would come from the Texas Legislature, which is why the petition is to lawmakers and Perry.

The issue is not on the governorís plate yet, a spokeswoman said.

"The governor is very supportive of conceal and carry laws," said Kristi Piferrer, a Perry spokeswoman. "Expanding that to open carry probably will take a lot of public deliberation and legislative guidance."

Some law enforcers say they would be leery of an open-carry policy in Texas.

"I really think it would cause a lot of uneasiness in the community, with people seeing so many guns," Tarrant County Constable Sergio DeLeon said. "It could create more problems than it would solve."

Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson, who as a state senator helped make concealed-carry law in 1995, said he doesnít believe that open carry would create any problems.

While he never considered proposing an open-carry measure, Patterson said he has seen the practice in Arizona.

"I went into the bank, and a guy walked in with a .45 in his back pocket," he said. "I thought, 'Well, thatís unusual.í "

"You never know"

Suddeth, an IT professional who does some travel for work, said he would like to openly carry a loaded handgun. In the past year, Suddeth said there was an elderly woman attacked, cars broken into, a home broken into and several assaults in his Bedford neighborhood.

"You never know when crime is going to happen," he said. "I think eventually we will see open carry in Texas.

"Eventually, it will happen."


Open-carry states Texas is one of six states that either do not allow or highly restrict the open carrying of handguns in public. The others are New York, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Florida and South Carolina, as well as Washington, D.C., according to

More than a dozen states require a license for open carry, from Utah to Mississippi to Massachusetts. Eleven more, from Vermont to Arizona, allow it but donít require licenses. Still more generally permit it but offer various restrictions. And two states, California and Illinois, allow loaded handguns to be carried in rural areas, according to the Web site.

" believes that 'a right unexercised is a right lost,í and increasingly gun owners are agreeing," according to the Web site. "Itís time gun carry comes out of the closet in America."


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06-24-2008, 02:43 PM
If the Texas folks want open carry, then they should have it. But they, and anyone else opting for open carry, should do it with their eyes open. There are some real liabilities associated with open carry that won't disappear just because of a burst of enthusiasm by the shooting public.

For the entirety of my 28 year career in law enforcement I wore a handgun right out in the open for all to see.....and every second I wore that gun I was acutely aware that it was there and of how easy it would be for someone to come up and grab it. I never had a moment's relaxation as long as I was in public with that pistol. Even so, we were extensively trained in protective retention techniques to avoid losing it, but even that wasn't enough......police holsters today have a myriad of retention devices designed to allow only the user to draw the gun.....and still we lose them, as in the case of the North Carolina State Trooper who was shot and killed with his own gun last week.

So now we're going to allow folks to carry pistols openly in any sort of carry rig, including no carry rig, without the first realization that even a momentary lack of care can cost you the gun and possibly even a gunshot wound.....that you must be totally and uncompromisingly vigilant about where the gun is and who is around you and where......and I doubt that any of the open carry states will be willing to provide training in any of this, either. Worse yet, most who would carry openly don't believe they even need such training.

Then there is the issue of civil and criminal liability associated with having a badguy seize your pistol and use it to commit a crime or kill someone, not to mention the tactical disadvantages of having a potential opponent know where your gun is and what its capabilities are. These are things everyone who wants to carry openly should think long and hard about.

So before everyone jumps on the open carry bandwagon, you need to understand that this is big medicine that can get you shot, prosecuted, or sued if you don't do it right....exactly right....on a full time basis.

Personally, I think everyone should be allowed to carry a concealed pistol as a right, and I do it myself.......but you couldn't pay me enough money to get me to go back to carrying one out in the open. You folks do what you want, but I'll never carry a weapon openly again.


06-24-2008, 02:50 PM
Considering the history of Texas and the West, when did open carry become illegal in Texas?

06-24-2008, 11:34 PM
The news report that the about the NC state Trooper being shot with his own gun was incorrect. The traffic stop motorist shot the Trooper
then stole the troopers gun. It took a day to get the stright story
from the news.
Jaypee has some valid points as to open carry. :up:

06-24-2008, 11:39 PM
You should see some of the brain dead clowns I sell handguns to. They are not banned from owning them and they have the money. To think that these dangerous people are walking around with loaded handguns on their persons gives me the heebie-jeebies.

06-25-2008, 12:06 AM
I have a CHL and I think it's a bad idea. If it passes, I'll still carry concealed.

06-25-2008, 12:51 AM
I don't see much value in open carry. Its nice when I'm hunting or camping (usually on private property), but why do it in town. It would look a bit over the top to me.

06-25-2008, 03:15 AM
I don't do it in town, but do in the country. Pretty common practice around here.

06-25-2008, 05:15 AM
I carry open in the woods and canoe - period.

06-25-2008, 10:21 AM
I dunno when open carry became illegal in Texas. Long time ago, I believe.

I agree with JayPee on this one. I've carried concealed since it became legal in Texas (1996, I believe), and I would not consider carrying open. I do not want people to know I'm carrying, for several reasons, mostly as stated by JayPee. But in addition to what he said, those of us who carry are in a small minority here, and many places I go I would put people very ill at ease if they knew I was carrying. I feel pretty sure that there are a lot of places I go carrying concealed that I would either not go, or not go carrying, if it were open carry.

And in some states where open carry is legal, concealed carry is not. I would really hate for that to happen in Texas.

Took a long time for us (Texas) to get where we are, and I hope it stays like it is right now.

Except (and I know, I'll catch flack for this) I wish the training required to get the CHP (Concealed Handgun Permit) were greater.


06-25-2008, 10:50 AM
But in addition to what he said, those of us who carry are in a small minority here, and many places I go I would put people very ill at ease if they knew I was carrying.

Agreed. We are definitely in a small minority here. A lot of folks freak when they see a gun. Texas ain't what it used to be. It's not easy to get one. There's been police officers denied a concealed carry permit. What you say? yep. Last class I took, our instructor, who is also a DPD range instructor, told us that there's been a few cases of officers not being approved to carry concealed, yet, they carry one everyday at work. :psycho: Haven't figured that one out yet.

Except (and I know, I'll catch flack for this) I wish the training required to get the CHP (Concealed Handgun Permit) were greater.
No flack from this end. ;)

06-25-2008, 11:34 AM
No flack from this end. ;)

This end either. Take the guys Popeye mentioned and put them into a CCW class and you'll see why I quit teaching it. As an anonymous wise man once said: "Ignorant we can fix, but stupid's forever!" The man was a prophet. :D


06-25-2008, 12:08 PM
After thinking about it, I might have misunderstood my instructor. He probably was referring to former police officers, since a sworn police officer would be able to carry one concealed; off duty. There would be no need in the officer applying for a CHL. So, I stand corrected.

06-25-2008, 12:19 PM
Could be an ex-cop was under a legal disability such as a DV conviction. That has ensnared a lot of people.

06-25-2008, 12:36 PM
Could be an ex-cop was under a legal disability such as a DV conviction. That has ensnared a lot of people.

You're absolutely correct, Saunders. The cases he mentioned, were in fact, a DV issue.

06-25-2008, 01:31 PM
Not sure about the whole state, but Houston cops can only carry a weapon that they're authorized to carry on duty (primary or backup weapon) as a ccw. I'm pretty sure all Texas LEO's are authorized to carry a weapon off duty, and don't require a CCL to do so.

06-25-2008, 01:50 PM
First: Jaypee, you are right on about the risks of open carry and losing your weapon. I take care of alot of the local LEOs (as well as being personal friends with many) and have heard repeatedly that with every LE encounter there is always a weapon available to the suspect --The LE officer's.

Second: Now quadruple that with people carrying in non-retention holsters. Kinda gives me the heebee jeebees too. Particularly if it is allowed for everyone who may purchase a firearm. I am sorry but no.

Third: If they changed the law for concealed carry permits to an open or concealed with at least the same restrictions and training I would me much more for it. I also believe that the training needs to be more intense. Particularly in reguards to the proficency training. If you cannot pass the same proficency test as a DPS officer then you should not be allowed to carry.

Lastly: The one good part about an open carry law is that it removes the burden of prosecution for failure to conceal if someone identifies your weapon. For example: When walking with my family in Herman Park in Houston this last year one of my children tripped and skinned her knee and was crying. I immediately bent over to pick her up and in doing so exposed my concealed handgun holstered on my right hip and previously covered with a shirt. Now I am very fast at doing a shirt flip to cover my weapon and am very practiced at it. It was not exposed for but an instant but when in Houston which is notorious for it's anti-gun administration and LEOs....Fortunately I was not spotted by a Houston PD officer but what if I had?

I grew up south of Houston so had many minor run ins with Houston PD in years past. Never any real trouble but I can tell you that that many officers in that department think they can do anything or harrass anyone because they wear that badge. I don't believe that has changed.

The other good part about open carry is that it allows us to have more of those Texas Barbques we love so much and could have them in a public park.

But ultimately I think we need to focus our energy in this state removing the barriers to where we can carry concealed with a permit. The one think Rick Perry (Gov.) and I agree on is that if you have a permit you should be able to carry anywhere.

06-25-2008, 03:04 PM
Well said, Doc. Here in Tennessee we have a Handgun Carry Permit program and can carry either exposed or concealed at our discretion. As a retired LEO I have had a long standing disagreement with statutes that promote inadvertant violations of law, like the one you mentioned in which you can get nailed merely because your shirt came up a bit. That's a real disservice to the public and your legislature should act to decriminalize such displays.

The other problem we have with open carry is that it actually promotes conflict between armed citizens and the police. The states that authorized open carry didn't bother to tell the general public that open carry is legal, so as soon as grammaw sees one she calls the 911 operator in a high squeaky voice and starts excitedly describing a "man with a gun" in the department store with all th soccer moms and their kiddies. The second part of the problem is that states that authorized open carry did not pass attendant legislation to absolve the cops of responsibility to investigate these "man with a gun" calls. So if the police fail to investigate, which would include a check of the person and the gun, maddening as heck to most legal gun owners, then they can be held liable for negligence if the man and his gun commit a crime.

In the presence of such a corrective statute, unless there was a clear indication of a crime being committed or the gun owner displaying hostile behavior, the cops could legally assume it was a legal carry situation and make no response. But under current legal standards that would be career suicide or even a devastating law suit on both the supervisors and the Department involved. I'm in the process of developing a letter to Wayne LaPierre discussing this problem for his consideration. Our only two choices seem to be to excuse law enforcement of this burden or continue to see needless and destructive conflicts between cops and the armed public.

If we're going to do this thing, we need to do it all the way and get it right.


06-25-2008, 04:26 PM
One thought on open carry.

Arizona has been open carry for years....still is.

When the CCW laws came into existence those carrying concealled became subject to a possible felony if their concealled weapon becomes exposed to the public without cause: I.E., your coat is blown open by the wind or it becomes visable when you bend over in a store to pick up something.

In those cases you are exempt from the right to open carry because you are a CCW holder. And it even applies to inside your vehicle here in Arizona.

Scary...but true.

So, I don't carry open any longer.

It's something to consider and to check out in your state (laws).

06-25-2008, 06:38 PM
Don't think I want open carry, for the reasons already posted by thoughtful folks here. If we just had to have it, I'd like to see mandatory training for open carry, just like concealed.

Nathan C Lewis
06-26-2008, 05:03 AM
CCW is the way to go:up:. Open carry is a great thing if one is in the woods, but to open carry in public is just making youself a target. Nate

06-26-2008, 07:51 AM
I imagine if Texas passes an open carry law, they'll take everything into consideration, and would imagine they'll have a way of allowing ccl holders to carry both concealled and open. I've never seen anyone bothered in Texas when their concealled weapon was accidentally exposed for a very brief instant. Don't doubt it happening if the police are looking for an excuse to bother you, but I've seen similar incidents occur many times while with on duty cops and they just shook their heads and let it go.

missing montana
06-26-2008, 10:00 AM
Hey open carry seems to work for law enforcement why not the public? And if it is such a problem then why does the law still carry open? Maybe because it is a deterrent! If it works for them then it should work for the everyday citizen. That's one of the big problems with law enforcement is that it's OK for them but not the people!

06-26-2008, 12:09 PM
Hey open carry seems to work for law enforcement why not the public? And if it is such a problem then why does the law still carry open? Maybe because it is a deterrent! If it works for them then it should work for the everyday citizen. That's one of the big problems with law enforcement is that it's OK for them but not the people!

It is a Law Enforcement Officer's JOB to enforce the law, including wading into a situation and stopping it, perhaps trading shots with the criminal.

Not so with a private individual. My ONLY reason for carrying (both legally and logically) is self defense. Period.

I WANT LE Officers carrying, openly if in uniform, or concealed if undercover, and I want to carry concealed. To me, it's the only edge I have over the bad guys, that he doesn't know if I am or not (or who else standing around might be).

And what is the "problem" that you have with law enforcement carrying openly, but not "the people"?


06-26-2008, 12:18 PM
The libertarian in me wants to shout from the rooftops that this (open carry) is a "natural right" and should be the law of the land.

The pragmatist in me says, hmmm, let's think about this for a bit.

06-26-2008, 12:31 PM
I have two problems with modern law enforcement.

1. We have too many laws.

2. The more special we make LEOs the more we cement the idea that they are responsible for our safety and we have no role in that.

The UK is a good idea of the idea.

06-26-2008, 12:36 PM
Would agree about too many laws.

What you left out, however, is that we have too many criminals, also. Far, far too many.

06-26-2008, 12:48 PM
Would agree about too many laws.

What you left out, however, is that we have too many criminals, also. Far, far too many.
Do something about the first problem and the second problem will take care of itself.

06-26-2008, 01:09 PM
Focus on the traditional egregious crimes not the more modern made up stuff.

Get real about who is involved in real crime and where it is happening and quit treating the rest of us like criminals.

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