Countdown to Open Carry

APD discusses their plans for open carry

Photo by John Anderson

Earlier this month, members of the Austin Police Department presented to the city's Public Safety Commission the department's plans to police those carrying handguns after the Jan. 1, 2016 implementation of House Bill 910, which allows those with concealed handgun licenses to carry unconcealed, holstered handguns in public places. Big picture: Police will interact with gun possessors much in the same way they have before. New twist: Because it's in a holster and not under your T-shirt, each cop's more likely to know now if you've got a gun.

Though officers retain the right to approach any gun-totin' citizen and ask if they've got the necessary licensing to continue totin' that there gun, confiscation can only happen if the officer "reasonably believes" it's in the best interest of safety. Those situations, said Officer Michael Barker, get broken down into two police categorizations: "hot shots," which are any calls to APD in which a gun is "being handled, brandished, or used in a threatening manner, or the gun carrier is involved in a disturbance"; and "urgent," meaning any call regarding a gun being displayed – hazardously or not – in or near a "vulnerable facility" or "critical infrastructure." Barker said an example of those two entities would be something like a school.

"We're not going to walk up on the street to anybody who's open carrying and ask for their license," he said. "If someone's not doing anything wrong, it's going to be perfectly within the law to have them open carry. It's going to be more or less when we can articulate reasonable suspicion, based on the fact that something out of the ordinary is occurring with them or we can connect the suspect to suspicious activity."

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open carry, Austin Police Department, guns

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