Despite its reputation as the land of cowboys and firearms, Texas is one of six U.S. states where all forms of handgun open-carry are banned by law. That could be changing, however. With new Republican governor Greg Abbot taking office in January alongside a legislature dominated by the GOP, many expect to see a renewed push for more lenient gun laws in the Lone Star State.

When Abbott won the November election, he made it a point to express his support of open carry laws. “If open carry is good enough for Massachusetts, it’s good enough for the state of Texas.” If Abbott is able to successfully push for the law, it would put an end to a ban that has been in place for 140 years. It would leave only Florida, New York, South Carolina, California, and Illinois without such permission. Of course, it can’t escape notice that these are among the most populace states in the nation.

Even though people see Texas as a haven for gun-rights support, even concealed carry permits have only taken effect relatively recently. It wasn’t until 1995 that the state passed a concealed weapons law. Today, there are more than 800,000 concealed handgun licensees.

Helping the Other Side

If there is movement toward open carry, though, the biggest supporters may also be the ones to sink the ship. Controversy broke this week when the president of a group called Open Carry Tarrant County took to Facebook for an ill-advised call to action. Kory Watkins wrote:

Have you ever thought we might just need to organize a very large group of our own people. Like 200 from each state so we can march armed to DC take over the city, arrest the bankers, crooked politicians and restore liberty here in our country? I’m not scared. I mean really… voting and waiting is not working!

Another member of the same group – Vernica Dunnachie – stands accused of killing her husband and 20-year-old stepdaughter this week, an incident that has obviously given the gun-rights movement the wrong kind of publicity.

Laws to Reflect Reality

While I support any pro-gun legislation that might arise in Texas (and elsewhere) in the coming years, I can’t claim to be a big fan of open carry as a personal choice. Still, that has no effect on my support for the legalization of such. The leftists who fear open carry will lead to a free-for-all are living in the dream world where criminals walk around with their guns plainly displayed. That’s simply not the case. If a guy is walking down the street with a visible handgun on his hip, he’s probably the last guy I would be suspicious of.

Open carry enthusiasts and gun-rights advocates in general are statistically among the most law-abiding citizens in the country. It’s time for state and federal law to reflect that fact, even if many prudent gun owners will choose to conceal instead.