AUSTIN (KXAN) — As Texas moves closer to becoming an open carry state, a change added right before the final passage of the House bill is getting some attention.
“It’s a necessary part of the open carry bill, without this you truly don’t have open carry,” said Rep. Matt Rinaldi, R-Irving.
He and Rep. Harold Dutton, D-Houston, were behind the amendment that basically says an officer cannot ask to see a person’s handgun license simply because they are openly carrying a gun.
“The police officers, just like if you’re driving a car, need some reasonable suspicion of a crime or reasonable suspicion that the person is unlicensed,” said Rinaldi.
Kent Morrison carries a concealed handgun on a regular basis and agrees with the lawmakers.
“Why should [licensed gun owners] be stopped and questioned while they’re doing something totally legal?” asked Morrison.
But the largest police association in Texas, which has supported open carry, disagrees with the amendment.
“It’s disturbing,” said Charley Wilkison, executive director of the Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas, “because it’s definitely aimed at law enforcement.”
He believes it takes away the tools an officer has to do their job.
“They might just say, ‘Do you have a license for your weapon?’ And then you’d say, ‘Yes, I do, and here it is,'” Wilkison said. “And then that’s the end of that.”
Police officers who have not taken positions on open carry said it will make their job harder.
“It is going to be difficult for the beat cop to know who should have a gun and who shouldn’t have a gun,” said Cedar Park Police Chief Sean Mannix.
But those who conceal carry don’t think it will cause the bad guys to do anything different.
“I just see criminals opting to keep it concealed,’ said Morrison. “They’re already breaking a bunch of laws, why put a spotlight on themselves?”
The bill is now in the hands of the Senate.