Somervell County Sheriff's Dept. reacts to new 'Open Carry' law

Travis M. Smith Managing Editor | @travis5mith
Other than the initial shock-and-awe type reactions, the Somervell County Sheriff's Department does not foresee any new threats to personal security after the new Jan. 1 "Open Carry" law begins.

GLEN ROSE – For the first time since 1871, holsters and handguns can be “openly” worn as a fashion accessory in Texas. Exactly 20 years after the institution of the “Concealed Carry” law, just over 900,000 Texans with concealed carry licenses will have the right and opportunity to openly carry a sidearm – where permitted – effective Jan. 1.

Legally a citizen will have every right to walk down Barnard St. with a pistol stowed away on his or her hip or shoulder, but not necessarily in every venue crossed along the way. Individual store owners, corporations and businesses can choose to restrict those who choose to take advantage of the new “Open Carry” law, but must display the proper State-issued signage on the front door of the building or issue a card to the individual.

Other than the initial shock and surprise from concerned citizens – and the occasional 9-1-1 calls that may follow the change in scenery – Somervell County Sheriff Greg Doyle does not expect there to any new threat to safety.

“We’re not expecting any major problems,” Somervell County Sheriff Greg Doyle said. “However, this is a whole new animal and we hope everyone can cooperate with us on this new law as it goes into affect. We recognize the right of citizens to be concerned as the change happens, but we will continue to observe the laws as they are written.”

“If you can carry now, you were carrying before,” Somervell County Chief Deputy Brian Peterson said. “Personally, I don’t know why you would want to open carry, because it could just make you a target that can be spotted from a distance.”

Peterson is not alone in this train of thought, as the same words and concerns have been echoed throughout numerous reports and releases. The general consensus thinks those who openly carry could be the first target for anyone wishing to carry out a crime or robbery.

According to Doyle and Peterson, deputies have attended training courses prior to, and after, Gov. Greg Abbott’s signing of HB 190, and have been made aware of several triggers that may raise their suspicion and prompt a request for proof of license.

“The law states that we have the right to ask for [proof of license], but we are not going to be harassing citizens about it,” Doyle assured.

Peterson recommends that all citizens who plan to openly carry a sidearm purchase a high quality and secure holster, enroll in a weapon retention course, and to always remain aware of their surroundings.

“The main issue is going to always be safety of the individual and those around the individual,” Peterson said. “Those who choose to openly carry are going to have to always be mindful of their surrounds. For example, you have to be careful where you sit when eating a meal in a restaurant. You shouldn’t sit with the gun to the outside where it can be easily accessible or grabbed from its holster.”

Police officers have frequent training on the finer points of openly carrying their sidearm, and the Somervell County Sheriff’s Department recommends citizens do the same.