Waxahachie police share what residents need to know about new licenses to carry law.

Starting Friday, Texans will have the ability to openly carry a holstered handgun in public. While being able to openly carry a handgun provides a little more freedom, there are some new rules that come with the law.

To legally open carry, a person must obtain a handgun license, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety. People with existing concealed carry license may openly carry under the new law. Handguns, whether loaded or unloaded, must be carried in a shoulder or a belt holster. The law does not require a specific holster, but only that the firearm is to be holstered.

“It also allows people to get a handgun license in order to openly carry a handgun,” Waxahachie Police Chief Wade Goolsby said. “I don’t foresee a lot of people showing up and wearing their guns. I don’t think that it will be a big issue. Initially, law enforcement thought that the concealed handgun license holders were going to be a big issue. Lots of shootings, lots of police confrontations and it just never really played out. We want the public to be aware of the law that if they see somebody wearing a pistol they are now legally able to do that.

If they are doing something suspicious or that would prompt a police response, then call us.”

Goolsby added the open carry law already addresses and legally allows people to openly carry rifles or shotguns in public.

Goolsby said private businesses could restrict people from bringing firearms onto their property, and business owners can do that by informing the public with a posted sign or telling a person verbally and asking them to leave. Business owners can restrict both concealed and openly carried firearms. If a sign is posted, it must include the following text in English and Spanish, according to the Texas Penal Code:

•Pursuant to Section 30.06, Penal Code (trespass by license holder with a concealed handgun), a person licensed under Subchapter H, Chapter 411, Government Code (handgun licensing law), may not enter this property with a concealed handgun

•Appear in contrasting colors with block letters at least one inch in height; and

•Be displayed in a conspicuous manner clearly visible to the public.

•Pursuant to Section 30.07, Penal Code (trespass by license holder with an openly carried handgun), a person licensed under Subchapter H, Chapter 411, Government Code (handgun licensing law), may not enter this property with a handgun that is carried openly.

•Appear in contrasting colors with block letters at least one inch in height; and

•Be displayed in a conspicuous manner clearly visible to the public at each entrance to the property.

Assistant Police Chief Dale Sigler said if a person is asked by the business owner to leave, and they refuse to comply, they can be arrested on a class A misdemeanor.

Residents do need to be aware that there are some places where open carry is not permitted.

According to the DPS website, some of these locations include an institution of higher education or a private or independent institution of higher education, as well as the public or private driveway, street, sidewalk or walkway, parking lot, parking garage or other parking area of an institution of higher education or private or independent institution of higher education. Open and carry is also not permitted in a courtroom or at public meetings.

“The penal code gives several locations. The best answer for that is anywhere that it is posted not to do so. Even with the locations that are prohibited are required to put signs. Anywhere you see signs that say no trespassing. You can’t be intoxicated when you carry,” Sigler said. “You can’t go to a place that gets 51 percent of their income or more through alcohol sales. You can’t carry in there, but they have to have their signage. A governmental meeting? You can still go into city hall, but you could not go into the meeting itself.”

Community Service Officer Dustin Jordan said when open carry is permitted, it’s important to know gun users still have to have license to be able to do so.

“A lot of people, when the ball started to get rolling, believed that now that I have this, there was a law passed that officers cannot come up and ask me for my license. That never went through,” Jordan said. “If you are openly carrying on the outside of your belt and officer walks up and asks you for your CHL or your handgun license, you are still required by law to provide that.”

Jordan said people who don’t have a handgun license or a CHL can still carry handgun in their vehicles, so long as it is concealed and they are not committing any other crimes. This still does not allow a person have it on a holster.

According to the DPS website, if you are in a state that has reciprocity with Texas, you must follow that state’s laws for carrying a handgun. The same responsibility applies to anyone from another state when traveling in Texas; they must follow Texas laws for carrying a handgun. Most states will have a website for carry licenses or permits that specify the state laws. Alternatively, you may contact officials with the other state and ask what laws exist in that state.

Goolsby said the officers at the department have gone through additional training to prepare for the new law and additional training sessions will be held. He added officers would always be cautious in any situation that involves a firearm.

“I think officers always approach the situation the same. When they are approaching the situation, they don’t know if whether the person has a license or does not have a license. We always use caution. It is not automatic anymore that a person is in violation of the law. They very well may be in compliance with the law,” Goolsby said. “It requires a little bit of a mental adjustment on the part of the officer. We will still be careful, but we understand that there are lots of people that can legally carry.”

Goolsby wants to assure the public that the new law is nothing to be afraid of, but residents still need to be mindful of their surroundings. If a resident sees something suspicious, they should report to law enforcement, he emphasized.

“If you see someone openly carrying, don’t freak out. It is now part of the law that they can do that,” Goolsby said.

For more information about the law, visit the DPS website at www.txdps.state.tx.us/rsd/chl/legal/newlegislation.htm.

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