hand guns
Texas will now allow licensed gun owners to carry handguns openly, in belt or shoulder holsters. Shutterstock/Barnaby Chambers

It might come as a surprise to many that one of the main centers of American gun culture, Texas, did not allow guns to be carried at plain sight, especially since shotguns and rifles are allowed to be visibly carried around. Now, on the first day of 2016, Texas will become the 45th state to let licensed firearms owners to openly carry a handgun in most places. A law signed by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott earlier this year will make Texas the most populous state in the U.S. to allow the practice, known as “open carry.”

Both, a group from the Tea party conservatives and a group of Democrats agreed on the original open carry bill, which came with a "no-stop" provision barring police from demanding to see the license of someone simply for openly carrying their gun. T.P. conservatives wanted to avoid 2nd Amendment rights infringement, while Democrats were worried about racial profiling, thinking blacks and Hispanics could be asked for their licenses more than their white counterparts.

Some officers are taking a step back, saying they won’t stop gun carriers “if there is no reason to ask for their license,” but concerns are high on the police side since passing a “no-stop” law could help potential criminals walk around with guns and no fear of getting caught.

Texas already had over 800,000 concealed licensed holders in 2014, and all of those wanting to carry a gun (now openly) have to get the same license and pass the same requirements: have clean criminal and psychology records, pass a shooting test, be 21 or over and complete a training course.

However, private businesses and other establishments have the right to ban open carry under the law. Counsel for Gringo’s, Al Flores, says his concern is that they are “primarily a family environment” and knowing his costumers, they’d feel a little uncomfortable if someone walked in carrying a gun. Their plan is to post signs up in all 14 restaurants in English and Spanish, warning customers about the policy. Joining them are at least three grocery giants including H-E-B, Whole Foods and Safeway, amongst many other businesses.

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