Texas Tribune Festival: What is next for Texas after open carry


This is the Texas Tribune Festival’s fifth year.

Story has been updated since Oct. 17.

In the Justice track at the Texas Tribune Festival on Saturday panelists discussed the next steps for gun laws in Texas in the segment entitled, “After Open Carry, Now What?”

Panelists included three state congress members, the Chief of Austin Police Department Art Acevedo and the Founder of Open Carry Texas C.J. Grisham.

Throughout the discussion on the highly debated topic, some panelists called for more regulation while others called for a push for the extension of Second Amendment rights.

Carol Alvarado, state representative, argued that a majority of Texans and law enforcement officials were against the new open carry law that will go into effect on Jan. 1.

State Representative Drew Springer disagreed, citing that his colleagues faced little opposition when the bill was being written. Springer also said that he didn’t think that an increase of licensed guns would increase gun violence. Springer claimed that although Chicago has stricter gun laws, Houston is actually a safer city.

Acevedo said the new law will require APD to take pragmatic steps to regulate guns and close loopholes.

During the session he mentioned his idea to “make it readily visible to show someone has had a background check,” such as having some sort of badge to show that someone can legally open carry. However, Grisham compared this to marking Jewish people with stars in Nazi Germany.

Grisham further calls for an expansion of constitutional rights in 2016, which would give all eligible citizens a right to carry a concealed firearm without a permit.

Springer also noted his interest in getting rid of gun free zones, calling them vulnerable, especially hospitals. However, he does respect the right for private properties to choose whether to allow guns on their premises, referring to Whataburger’s decision to not allow open carry in their restaurant.

With these calls to increase gun rights, Acevedo warned open carry advocates not to push too far because they might start to see stronger opposition.

“Gun ownership requires responsibility,” Acevedo said.

State Senator José Rodríguez also said in response, “I think the public has reached their limit of gun violence.”