HOUSTON – Just recently, the House Bill 910 was approved by the Texas House, on a vote of 101 to 42. The bill is one that has been strongly supported by the National Rifle Association and sponsored by State Representative Larry Phillips. The basis of the bill according to the Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee Report is to allow licensed handgun holders the opportunity to carry their handguns.
The report indicated that, “Interested parties note that Texas is one of only a few states that completely prohibit the open carry of a handgun and that many surrounding states allow for the open carry of a handgun in some form. These parties assert that Texas law should allow the open carry of a handgun because concealed handgun license holders in Texas have a long-established record of law-abiding and responsible behavior. C.S.H.B. 910 seeks to provide for the open carry of a holstered handgun.”
Therefore, this bill will alleviate the past requirement whereas concealed handgun license holders keep their firearms concealed. Under this bill license holders will have the option to carry their handgun on them fully or partially displayed in a belt or shoulder holster. Currently, 43 states allow open carry for concealed handgun licensed holders. Since approval by the Texas House the bill will now be passed onto the Texas Senate for further consideration.
While lobbyists for the National Rifle Association, other organizations, representatives and concealed handgun license holders are elated that the bill has been approved and appears to be on its way into effect in the state of Texas; not everyone shares those same sentiments. Members of the Black community have already begun to weigh out what this new implementation could mean for African-Americans.
Just last year, activists, politicians and concerned residents from the Fifth Ward community united together against the tentative plans of members of Open Carry Texas to perform a demonstration in the historical neighborhood.
Open Carry Texas is a group comprised of individuals who have been lobbying to change gun laws in the state of Texas. Local police officials were present as, both members from Open Carry Texas and the Fifth Ward community attempted to discuss the group’s plans in regards to the demonstration.
Initially, the meeting began with a calm tone, but eventually escalated as residents began to interrogate the true intentions of representatives of Open Carry.
Some residents argued that, “the group’s motives were racist.” Local activist and Minister for the New Black Panther Party, Quanell X expressed at the gathering that, “We have a bad history with White men who would come into Fifth Ward with guns in the name of a lynch mob.”
In wake of the slew of deaths in recent years caused by police officials within African-American communities; members of the community remain passionate about protecting and voicing their concerns. Many African-Americans are associating the passing of open carry, to the careless loss of lives of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Jordan Baker, and most recently Walter Scott.
Though the list remains endless of Black males who have unjustly loss their lives due to police officials across America; many believe that the invasion of open carry, into the African-American community may potentially raise the levels of deaths similar to the occurrences of the fore-mentioned instances.
Local pastor Rev. Lamar Jenkins offered his opinion on the bill that has created much talk within the African-American community. He said, “Anybody that carefully researches this bill can understand that there are some hidden agendas. What they are doing is making it more possible for a police officer to fire. Because truthfully it’s going to be African-Americans and White people alike, going out getting guns, some for protection and some for intimidation purposes. And police officers who wear guns and have tasers will make sure anything that they do is going to be justified in the eyes of the law.”
He continued, “No matter what police officers have guns, and they also have a badge which states that they are to, ‘protect and serve’. So if everyone is walking around with guns rather concealed or unconcealed, there is still a threat to the general public especially in the African-American community.”
Pastor Jenkins comments are parallel with the feelings and emotions of other African-Americans, groups and leaders around the state of Texas. A group in Texas known as the Huey P. Newton Gun Club has joined in on the efforts of protesting open carry.
Huey P. Newton Gun Club has a mission similar to the Black Panthers, receiving its name from the co-founder of the party. Members from the club have marched and protested unjust police shootings of unarmed Black males throughout the African-American community. Protesters of the group remain committed to marching to, “promote self-defense and community policing”.
Just last month, the Huey P. Newton Gun Club congregated for a, “Black Lives Matter” march performed in Austin; at the State Capitol Building in reference to open carry. The club adamantly revealed during their march that, “Black open carry is here to stay.”
Concluding, African-Americans should be aware of all the ramifications for invoking their right to open carry. As some leaders of the Black community argue that the law has made room for even more potential hazards that work to continue the season of open fire amongst member of its community.