By Caleb Mynatt, Correspondent
With 2016 now upon us here in Texas, the social and political landscape has changed when it comes to gun laws and gun safety. Put forth by Governor Greg Abbott and the Texas Legislation, as of January 1st it is legal to carry a weapon openly in the state of Texas. As opposed to concealed carry, open carry allows lawful gun owners to legally carry their weapons on a holster in public places. This was put forth as a safety measure by the state government in Texas, and is observed statewide.
Though this is law now, and completely legal, it can be a tad intimidating for the average citizen. For someone to see a person walking down the street with a gun at their hip can be concerning, and it adds a new dynamic to public safety. The best way to deal with the change, however, is to be educated about it, and know how the Belton Police Department as well as police departments statewide plan to handle the new law.
“Put forth by the state government, it is now lawful for a citizen who is a rightful gun owner to carry their weapon at their side in a holster in public places,” said Officer Tammy McCleney, a member of the Belton Police Department. “It is our wish as the Belton Police Department to observe and respect citizen’s Second Amendment right, and that is our stance on the law.”
The Belton Police Department works tirelessly to keep its citizens safe and make sure the law is enforced in our city. With the new Open Carry law, it is to be enforced as any other law. Though it can be concerning for people, McCleney spoke on behalf of the Belton Police Department to ensure us that there is nothing to worry about.
“This new law is like any other law that the state of Texas may pass, it just seems scarier because it deals with guns,” said McCleney. “This law is a lot like driving a car: it’s okay to drive a car assuming you do it responsibly and legally, and when you don’t your license will be revoked. A citizen isn’t allowed to just walk around with their gun out in their hand, that’s not what Open Carry is. They must keep it holstered and be responsible with it, and only draw it if a threat emerges.”
As for what a citizen can do to observe the law but also keep their community safe, the Belton Police Department simply advises to stay calm and not to worry, but also to have a watchful eye and use careful discernment.
“Now, if you see someone walking around with a gun, it is not illegal. That gun must be holstered though,” said McCleney. “If you observe someone acting out or acting irresponsibly and drawing the weapon, or seems to be intoxicated, or you feel as though they may be a threat due to some behavior, it would be best to contact the police. We want people to be able to carry their weapon, but we want to make sure it’s done responsibly.”