New permitless carry law allowing most Texans to carry a handgun without a license goes into effect
PLANO, Texas - Anyone legally allowed to own a handgun in Texas can now carry it openly or concealed in most places without training and without a license.
Until Wednesday, Texans had to take training, pass an exam and pass a criminal background check to get a handgun permit.
Those things are no longer required under the state’s new constitutional or permitless carry law.
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Guns are still not allowed in places like secure areas of an airport, public schools and federal office buildings.
Many police officers oppose the law and worry it will make the jobs of officers more dangerous.
Plano Police Chief Ed Drain talked to Good Day FOX 4 about the ins and outs and how his department will address the new law.
"Most of our officers are going to assume that people are armed," he said.
Chief Drain said his dispatchers do a good job of asking the right questions to determine if there is a gun involved before officers respond to a call.
"But of course, every contact that an officer makes may not be related to a call for service. So, yeah that is something that I am concerned about," he said.
There was similar concern when what’s now referred to as a license to carry in Texas came into effect in 1995.
The difference now is that officers can no longer rely on that license to tell them if someone who is armed is a law-abiding citizen that has undergone training and a background check.
"As a peace officer, I’m entitled to carry a firearm on duty and off duty. Most peace officers – sheriffs, police officers – that I know support the right of Texas residents to be able to do that as well. But with that right comes responsibility," Chief Drain said. "The training requirements for the license to carry provisions that passed in 2015, there was not a lot of training in there, but it did talk about some key points. It talked about Ch. 9 of the Texas Penal Code and that outlines when deadly force is authorized. I think that that is really important."
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Despite the new law, police officers will still have the authority to take a gun away from someone in a tense situation like on a domestic violence call.
"Police officers have always had the ability to temporarily disarm someone in confrontational situations like a domestic violence. You could potentially have a traffic crash where you have people out debating about who is at fault. We can temporarily disarm someone in those situations and if someone is not going to jail and they’re otherwise eligible to have the firearm it would be returned to them after the situation can be worked out," Drain said.
The chief is still worried about the people who will be buying a gun without learning about where guns are prohibited in Texas. The new law also changes some signage requirements for places where handguns are prohibited.
There will be a training course available through the Department of Public Safety but it is optional and not required for new gun owners.
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