Texas has had an open carry law for firearms for more than a year. The proposal was controversial and represented a more liberal approach to firearms than seen in many states.
Opinions are polarized on whether it has exacerbated or reduced gun crime.
Recently Harvard Law and Policy Review concluded carrying guns in open view was not the solution to rising rates of gun crimes.
“There is no conclusive evidence that expanding access to firearms has any positive effect on crime rates or incidents of violence,” stated the study.
The article took issue with claims by pro-gun advocates that higher rates of gun ownership reduce crime. It cited a study from the National Institutes of Health in 2013, which looked at rates of gun-related violence over three decades and identified a strong correlation between the ownership of guns and incidents of violence, in particular homicides.
However, these studies related to concealed guns rather than open carry.
Recently, Texas’ Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick claimed states where people carry more guns have fewer crimes. He said.
“Everywhere that we have more citizens carrying guns, crime is less. There’s a study showing that where states have open carry or concealed carry, but particularly open carry, the crime is down 25 percent. Murders are down. Having law-abiding citizens having guns is a good thing.”
An article in Politifact highlighted the conflicting conclusions of studies into the question of whether more gun ownership equates to less crime.
It referred to a study by researchers at Texas A&M University who looked at crime data in Texas, Florida, Michigan and Pennsylvania from 1998. These were the only four states that had at least 10 years of statistics following the enactment of concealed carry legislation.
All the states saw an increase in the number of concealed-carry permits as a result of the change. However, the trends varied from state to state. Burglary and rape fell across all four states from 1998 to 2010, while murders fell in Michigan and Texas. However, robbery, aggravated assault and larceny rose over that time in Michigan and Pennsylvania while homicides increased in Florida and Pennsylvania.
Notwithstanding high profile incidents like the killings of five police officers by a sniper in Dallas this summer, there is little evidence that Texas’ open carry law has fueled gun crime.
However, there are some concerns about different jurisdictions treating the open carry law in an inconsistent way and charging people with offenses when they are acting in accordance with the law. There are certainly some gray areas in the law such as whether police officers can ask people who are openly carrying their guns to show their permits.
If you are facing gun-related charges, you should contact an experienced Tarrant County attorney. Call us at (682) 204-4066.