Permitless carry, one of 666 new laws that went into effect on Sept. 1, allows Texans to carry handguns without a license or training. For two local law enforcement agencies, it’s still business as usual.
Most Texans are now able to carry handguns in public without training or a license. As long as someone isn’t already prohibited from owning a firearm, Texans 21 years or older can carry a handgun without a license while in the state through the new permitless carry law, dubbed “constitutional carry” by supporters.
Asked about potential changes to procedures, some Denton-area police departments said nothing is changing.
“It’s not something that we’re just going to be asking on every traffic stop,” Lt. Preston Pohler of the Denton Police Department said last week. “For our police department, with every legislative update, we’re required to do a legal update. … With this one in particular, we already got a little bit of training within the past week. We sent everyone an update … basically training us on understanding what constitutes an unlawful carrying of a firearm and what doesn’t.”
The legislation from this past legislative session further opened gun laws in Texas. In 2016, open carry went into effect and permitted Texans to openly carry handguns in public if they had a permit.
Felons and those convicted of domestic violence offenses in Texas aren’t permitted to carry handguns. The new law enhances penalties for those prohibited from carrying guns that are found to be in possession of one.
Illegally carrying a firearm is now a second-degree felony with mandatory jail time for convicted felons. It’s a third-degree felony for people with domestic violence convictions. People convicted of certain violent misdemeanors or reckless use of a firearm would be prohibited from carrying a gun for five years.
Locally, one firearms shop owner stopped teaching license-to-carry classes in May, and another said he would continue to offer classes, as well as a new one about permitless carry. Asked if he’s noticed an increase in handgun ownership or increase in sales in the past week, Denton Call to Arms owner Bill Anderson said “none whatsoever.”
Anderson in June said he stopped teaching license-to-carry classes in mid-May in anticipation of permitless carry passing. On top of that, he said he taught classes for so long that he was burned out.
Prior to permitless carry being signed, Texans needed to be licensed to carry handguns openly or concealed. This meant completing four to six hours of training, submitting fingerprints, passing a written test and passing a shooting proficiency test.
Chief Emmitt Jackson of the Argyle Police Department said the mere presence of a firearm isn’t grounds to detain someone. He said his department also won’t be asking people during traffic stops if they’re carrying a gun in the car.
“If they were to tell us they have a firearm or a weapon, we would be cognizant of that and ask that they not reach for it” and tell us where it is, Jackson said. “If we check their record and they’re not legally entitled to be in possession of one, we would approach that as before.”