Open Carry

As of January 1, 2016, Texas House Bill 910, open carry, is effective.

House Bill 910 allows Texas citizens to carry their firearms in sight of the general public and citizens do not have to concealing them. This includes long arms, which do not require a license. Handguns do require a license, and the individual must be 21 or over. A Texas citizen must also carry the handgun in a shoulder or belt holster.

Citizens do not need to get a separate license to open carry. If they have a current concealed handgun license (CHL), they are allowed to open carry.

Not everyone can open carry. People who want to open carry must have a clean criminal and psychological record. They must also obtain a handgun license which requires classroom training and a shooting test. Minors under 18 years old cannot open carry without a parent present.

Open carry is not allowed everywhere in Texas, either. Open carry is not allowed in schools, polling places, courtrooms, or secured areas of airports. Private business owners can choose to ban open carry, or guns in general, but they must post a sign.

“Even before this new law went into effect, it has been legal for owners to bring in guns as long as they don’t consume alcohol,” said the media team from Waco’s Olive Garden “I can say that it hasn’t changed anything with Olive Garden, our standpoint hasn’t changed from then to now. We respect the law. Our policy is to follow state law as written. We don’t implement any rule that conflicts with the state law.”

Along with open carry, campus carry for institutions of higher education (senate bill 11) is set to come into effect on August 1, 2016, and for community colleges on August 1, 2017. Open carry will still not be allowed on college campuses though. Campus carry is for all public and private institutions of higher education, and private universities have the ability to opt out of the bill, banning campus carry at their institution. Public universities are allowed to have gun-free zones but cannot completely prohibit someone form carrying a concealed weapon.

Although the campus carry law is not in effect yet and Baylor has not opted in or out the Baylor Police Department takes many precautions at the bigger events to enhance safety. Many Baylor events are open to the public such as the Traditions Rally and Christmas on Fifth. Security was heightened for those events as well as for the football games with bag checks, extra officers and bomb dogs.

“It [campus safety] is like a 1,000 piece jigsaw puzzle,” said Baylor Police Chief Wigtil “we have to do it piece by piece.”

While many private universities have already opted out, Baylor University has yet to make a decision. To opt out, the university must consult with its faculty, staff and students. Private universities do not have to make a decision until August 1, 2016.

“I think it could be more antagonistic towards people who want to perform violent acts on campus,” said Baylor University freshman Jonathan Sclafani. “As well I think the pros of proficient, intelligent people publicly displaying their weapon would be very disarming towards people who would like to perform violent acts on campus.”