Open-carry goes into effect

License holders can now carry in belt and shoulder holsters

SAN ANTONIO – Open carry is now the law of the land in Texas, and supporters are celebrating.

"We didn't stop and you didn't stop. We proved the sight of a firearm is not something to fear," Open Carry Texas Founder C.J. Grisham told supporters at an Austin rally Friday.

As of Jan. 1, anyone with a license to carry a handgun - formerly a concealed handgun license - is permitted to carry their handgun openly in a shoulder or belt holster. With the exception of college campuses or private security personnel not wearing a uniform, open carry generally applies to anywhere someone could carry a concealed handgun.

"It's just a matter of having the right to choose. We were eating dinner today (and) I took my jacket off. Yesterday, I would have been a criminal because of that," said OCT Legislative Director Richard Briscoe.

Businesses also have the right to prohibit open carry on their property by posting a sign.  In San Antonio, H-E-B, Whole Foods and Quarry Cinemas all have signs up prohibiting the open carry of firearms.

"I think that's totally fair. If they feel it makes their place safer, especially in a movie theater. It doesn't make sense to bring guns in the movie theater," said Emily Strayer, who was on her way into Quarry Cinemas.

Another Quarry Cinemas patron, Joe Espinoza, agreed.

"I think it's a good thing, honestly. I wouldn't feel so safe with someone carrying a gun in there," Espinoza said.

At Whole Foods, Joseph Alvarez said he believed in both the right of people to carry guns and also a business's right to prohibit them.

I'm actually awaiting my paperwork to carry," Alvarez said. "And of course, if I came here, I'd leave it in the car. I'll respect their wishes."

Briscoe said OCT doesn't organize boycotts, but license holders are free to stay away from businesses that don't allow open carry.

"We advise our members about business which are friendly to our rights, and those which are not, and those which may be somewhere in between and allow them to make their own purchasing decision as their needs may dictate,” he said.

While Briscoe and others are celebrating their new right, they're also looking to the next step. Briscoe said his group will be pushing for so-called constitutional carry. Meaning anyone who is legally allowed to own a gun could carry a handgun openly without a license.

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