Controversy Over Last Minute Open Carry Amendment
A last minute change to the Texas House bill for Open Carry before its final passage has police officers feeling disturbed.
Rep. Matt Rinaldi, R-Irving, and Rep. Harold Dutton, D-Houston, introduced the amendment that would prevent police officers from asking to see someone's permit simply because they are openly carrying a firearm. Rinaldi said,
It’s a necessary part of the open carry bill, without this you truly don’t have open carry.
The police officers, just like if you’re driving a car, need some reasonable suspicion of a crime or reasonable suspicion that the person is unlicensed.
However, the Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas, the largest police association in the state and supporters of Open Carry, feel the amendment would take away tools an officer has to do his/her job. According to Charley Wilkison, the association's executive director,
They might just say, ‘Do you have a license for your weapon?’ And then you’d say, ‘Yes, I do, and here it is.' And then that’s the end of that.
Other officers have expressed a concern that such a measure would prevent police from easily determining who should and shouldn't be carrying a weapon. The amendment has received support from conceiled handgun carriers, like Kent Morrison, who feels the measure protects those who are abiding by the law,
Why should [licensed gun owners] be stopped and questioned while they’re doing something totally legal?
I just see criminals opting to keep it concealed. They’re already breaking a bunch of laws, why put a spotlight on themselves?