Law Enforcement Responds to New Open Carry Law

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The open carry law in Texas goes into effect January 1. Local law enforcement says they have procedures in place to make sure they can balance protecting the public and respecting the rights of people legally carrying.

"If citizens exercising their right to carry are walking down the street, we're not going to run up and just start asking them a bunch of questions," Sgt. Ryan Bona with the Bryan Police Department said. "If that person is deemed to be suspicious or they may be involved in other criminal activity, then we will contact them and ask them for their license to prove that they have a permit to carry."

Visible guns are required to be secured in a holster, and if gun owners don't follow the law, police say they could face some jail time.

"The new law does not exempt them from carrying it in an appropriate holster, and that would be an arrestable offense on site. For them to comply with the regulations, they have to keep it in the holster at all times unless they're justified in defending themselves or using deadly force," said Sgt. Bona.

Police are also gearing up for phone calls from residents who see people open carrying.

"It's going to be a learning process," Bona said. "There's going to be some growing pain here at the beginning. I'm sure there will be some people that are a little startled, possibly by the sight of someone carrying openly. We'll handle the calls accordingly just like we've always done."

The new law doesn't allow you to carry everywhere, though. Both Bryan and College Station will not allow guns in municipal courtrooms. State agencies are also allowed to set their own rules on open carry.

Private business owners have the right to decide whether they will allow guns into their businesses. If they see a gun and ask that person to leave, by law, the individual must exit the business.

Police are encouraging anyone who sees a gun and feels like they are in danger to call 911.