AP Texas News

June 23, 2008, 11:46AM
Texas group wants to carry handguns in plain view

© 2008 The Associated Press

FORT WORTH, Texas — Despite the Lone Star State's love affair with the gun, there's at least one firearms restriction that some Texans want lifted.

Texas is just one of six states in which handguns can't be worn in plain view. The other 44 states, in the parlance of gun advocates, are known as "open-carry" states.

More than 3,500 people have signed an online petition asking Gov. Rick Perry and the Legislature to permit Texans to wear their handguns without concealing them.

The Texas Citizens Defense League supports the petition, which requests that people who legally buy handguns be allowed to carry them openly, except in places prohibited by law.

"Cowboys and Indians, and the Alamo — and many just assumed that Texas was an open-carry state," wrote Gary Williams, who signed the petition. "Clearly, there are some changes that need to be made."

John Pierce, co-founder of Open Carry, a Web site promoting open-carry laws, said he considers the ability to wear a holstered firearm on the outside of one's clothes to be "a basic gun right." He also said it's part of Texas' long tradition of gun ownership, dating to when frontier settlers wore their guns for everyone to see.

"It was considered part of everyday life back then," Pierce said in a story Monday in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. "The concealed-carry part was what was looked at with disdain."

Some law enforcement officials and gun-safety advocates oppose the petition. Tarrant County Constable Sergio DeLeon said the sight of citizens openly carrying firearms would "create more problems than it would solve."

"I really think it would cause a lot of uneasiness in the community, with people seeing so many guns," DeLeon told the newspaper.

Richard Leal, a board member of Houston-based Texans for Gun Safety, said state laws are already friendly enough to gun owners.

"What are they trying to do?" Leal said. "Go back to Texas gunslinger days?"

The Texas governor has not taken a public position on open-carry laws.

"The governor is very supportive of conceal and carry laws," Perry spokeswoman Kristi Piferrer said. "Expanding that to open carry probably will take a lot of public deliberation and legislative guidance."


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