C.J. Grisham, President, Open Carry Texas
For the past three years since my arrest, I’ve worked hard to get better gun rights legislation passed through the Texas legislature. As of January 1 of this year, a licensed gun owner can carry a holstered handgun openly instead of being required to cover up. It took a lot of hard work from a lot of people from El Paso to Beaumont, Harlingen to Lubbock and Texarkana to Odessa to make it happen. I wanted to take a quick moment and explain why this is an important law because there are three main reasons why you should support it.
Convenience – The fact is that a thin piece of fabric is the only difference between someone carrying a gun concealed or openly. If you want to take off your coat to sit down for a cup of coffee or a burger, you can now do so without having to untuck your shirt or become a criminal. You can get out of your car to pump gas or grab a quick soda without worrying my gun might be seen. People who wear shirts and ties or tucked in business casual can now defend themselves legally without having to hide their gun.
Comfort – Inside the waistband holster are uncomfortable and cumbersome. Gun owners frequently end up dressing around their firearm instead of carrying what they prefer to carry. In order to carry an outside the waistband holster – the most popular manner of carry – Texans typically end up buying clothing is a size too large so they can properly conceal them. We no longer have to do that. During the summer months, it is even more difficult to conceal during a time when clothing is kept as minimal as possible. Likewise, more women will be able to carry a handgun comfortably having the additional option to carry openly in a belt or shoulder holster and women are the fastest growing demographic for gun ownership.
– In my line of work in the Army, I was trained on many of the psychological aspects of criminology. Fear and anxiety are a very powerful emotions and they are used incessantly by critics of open carry. However, fear and anxiety can be cured or at least managed. As someone with PTSD I know that firsthand as I have been trained to successfully manage my anxiety as have thousands of people suffering with it. A common treatment in overcoming phobias is exposure therapy. People who are afraid to drive can’t get over that fear if they never get behind the wheel. A fear of heights can’t be overcome by standing on the sidewalk. A fear of guns in public will likewise continue to perpetuate that fear as long as they are stigmatized and invisible to the naked eye. This is what I accomplished by carrying rifles all over Texas. It took some getting used to and made a lot of people uneasy, but by the end of 2013 the number of 911 calls about people carrying rifles dropped over 97% because people knew the law and were exposed to them. People may have still be uncomfortable, but they weren’t fearful. The same is true about open carry of holstered handguns.
In 1995, when the concealed handgun law was passed, we heard much of the same outrage, manufactured fear, and belly aching that we hear today with the passage of the open carry law. Businesses scrambled to put up 30.06 signs banning concealed handguns. People predicted Hollywood-style shootouts and blood running through the streets. It was supposed to be concealed carry-initiated Armageddon. They were proven wrong. Within a year, businesses started slowly removing the signs as they realized it wasn’t a big deal and today few businesses have them up at all. The critics shriveled into their cocoons licking their wounded pride for overreacting. Open carry will be no different and will experience the same growing pains.
We haven’t done anything novel in Texas by passing this law. We aren’t even a leader in gun rights legislation. We’re still way behind the constitutional power curve. We don’t need to wonder what results open carry will bring; we can look at more than 40 states to see for ourselves. Of the 45 states that allow some form of open carry, 31 of them are UNLICENSED open carry states. In other words, we are part of only one-third of the open carry states that still require a license. Open carry was not responsible for a single increase in crime rates, death, or another N’ Sync album.
My ultimate goal and what will define my existence until I succeed is to get constitutional carry passed in Texas, make our license to carry voluntary, remove gun free zones, protect law abiding gun owners, and lower the cost of obtaining a license. Last year, the number of constitutional carry states jumped from five to seven. Two of those states are BLUE states! There is no reason that Texans are any less capable, intelligent, responsible, or deserving to exercise our rights without paying a tax and begging for a permission slip than those other states. I would even opine that we are more capable, more intelligent, more responsible, and more deserving than they are. We’re the only state in the Union that was once its own country. It’s time to be a leader again.