Legalities of Carrying a Handgun

By Thom Bolsch and Ron Mullins

 

Grab a cup of coffee and find a comfortable place to sit.

 

We recently penned an article on the use of force; and now we are going to take a deeper dive into the responsibilities of carrying a handgun in public and the potential use of deadly force. You’ll want to sit down and read this…  Not just skim through it!

 

In the state of Texas, Government Code 411, Subchapter H outlines the authority and obligations for a private citizen to carry a handgun, concealed or open, in public.  The latest amendments of this code went into effect January 1, 2017; referred to today as a “License to Carry” or “LTC”.

 

We are not going to go over the legalities associated with the LTC.  You should be familiar with that from attending your LTC class.

 

This article was drafted from research into GC 411, discussions with instructors and conversations with Law Enforcement.  We were fortunate to gain an audience with Montgomery County Sheriff Rand Henderson, Montgomery County Precinct 3 Constable Ryan Gable and MCSO Captain Damon Hall in the development of this article.  Thank you all for your time, your insight and your service to the community.

 

You have watched the news and seen an increase in situations where the average citizen is under threat of violence; and you think to yourself “What if me, my wife and kids were in that situation?”.  Would you know how to protect your family?  Could you protect your family?

 

This is the primary reason for most individuals to make the effort to secure their License to Carry.

 

You are born with the right to protect yourself, the US Constitution stipulates that the government cannot take that right away from you; and Texas Penal Code Chapter 9 defines the legal use of deadly force to affect that protection.

 

The LTC however, comes with some guidelines, rules and responsibilities.  It is our obligation, and our responsibility, to treat the right and the authorization with respect.  There are too many people in the world that want to take your right to carry a gun away from you; we don’t want to give them a reason to do so.

 

You have attained, or are deciding whether to attain, your “LTC”.  Understand, the gun you carry can only be presented in response to a direct threat of physical violence upon yourself, a family member or innocent bystander.  Shooting at the car of a shoplifter as they speed away from you does not meet the criteria of the established guidelines; and you may end up on the wrong side of the law!

 

It should also be pointed out that the “LTC” is NOT a badge.  It does not promulgate a law enforcement authority.  The “LTC’s” only purpose is to allow an individual to carry a handgun in public.

 

We’ll mention it again; there are responsibilities to carrying a handgun in public.  One being awareness of those around you.  Yes, we live in Texas and it’s expected that everyone has a gun in Texas; even so, there are many people that are uncomfortable with someone sporting a new Sig Sauer on their hip at the local restaurant.

 

And as is the case, if this handgun is seen by someone, they could call to have law enforcement investigate the situation.  If you are ever approached as a result of this situation; be respectful of the Law Enforcement official, be polite.  Present your license and be courteous; he or she are just doing their job.  And if asked by the establishment to leave; find somewhere else to grab a burger, you don’t want to eat where they don’t support the Second Amendment.

 

Sheriff Henderson shed a little light on the public carry of a handgun for Montgomery County, explaining that when the carry laws changed from concealed to open, the act of open carry was determined not to be considered ‘probably cause’.  Unless actions dictate otherwise, law enforcement officers will likely leave you alone.

 

In our conversations, it was shared with us that law enforcement officers routinely experience two very different personalities when approaching an individual with an open carry handgun: One is referred to as responsible and respectful; the other as arrogant and antagonistic.  A showboating attitude in such a situation does not promote a responsible and respectful gun owning member of society.  Again, show Law Enforcement the respect they deserve; and exemplify the responsible gun carrying citizen you are.

 

We should also mention that legislative changes are updated every two years for the law enforcement community.  LTC renewals are much less frequent; opening a possible gap in our compliance with legislative changes in the law.  The Officer or Deputy may only want to inform you of the change; not “Jack you up”.  They don’t want to harass you.  They do want you to be safe and respectful to the people around you.

 

We’ve mentioned that carrying a handgun in public is a big responsibility.  But protecting our family from harm, or keeping your co-workers safe while out for lunch is another enormous responsibility.  The handgun just gives us a tool to provide that protection.  Yes, we have an obligation and a responsibility.  But didn’t we have that moral character before we had our LTC?

 

In the past year, there have been several stories of the average citizen standing up to a threat and protecting an innocent, and even a couple of stories where a citizen intervened when a criminal element got the upper hand on a law enforcement officer.  Constable Gable referred to those individuals as “angels”.

 

We want citizens with that character, the character to stand up to a threat and to injustice; and we want them carrying the tools necessary to deal with those issues.

 

One additional item to point out.  Everyone we talked with in constructing this article pointed out that just having the tool does not make you an expert in the operation of that tool.  Just because you have a seven iron, it doesn’t mean you’re a golfer.  Just because you carry a sidearm, doesn’t mean you’re ready – unless you train!  The final obligation and responsibility we have as a result of carrying a handgun in public is to train.  The military trains, hoping never to have to go to war.  Law Enforcement trains, hoping to never have to draw their duty gun.  We too must train.  We rehearse; hoping we are never called on stage.  But if we are ever called upon; we must know what to do. And; as Sheriff Henderson pointed out, we need to have a ‘mental blueprint’ associated with the fact that we may have to take a life!

 

Sheriff Henderson and Constable Gable both reiterated the need for advanced education and practical training.  Both considered civilian carry of a handgun a positive consideration; as well, both pointed out that with this right and authorization comes substantial responsibility.

 

Training and practice means more than just going to the range and punching holes in paper.  Take a series of beginner, intermediate and ultimately a tactical pistol class and learn what it’s like to draw your handgun from its holster, what it’s like to shoot at the image of a real person (and not just a silhouette), how to direct your shots towards the perpetrator without risking the safety of innocent people around you.

 

We don’t promote taking a life; but we don’t want the life of one we know taken.  We have a responsibility to the people we care about!

 

Our safety is our responsibility.  The ability to defend ourselves is our right.  Knowing how is our challenge; and know-how not only includes understanding the laws that frame our rights, but also the knowledge of how to use the tools to protect ourselves, our families and our friends.

 

Learn more about training programs to help you understand how best to protect yourself and your family here at Saddle River Range.  Club memberships can be found here.

Be Aware, Be Safe.

 

© Copyright 2018 Ron Mullins and Thom Bolsch

All rights reserved

By | 2018-12-04T09:43:44+00:00 December 4th, 2018|News|0 Comments

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