The time has come for Texas to be the 45th state to recognize the right to openly carry a handgun and the 31st state to do so without a licensing requirement. If more than half of the states can trust their citizens with this right, surely Texas can too.

People tell us they prefer the element of surprise that comes with concealed carry. They want to keep the criminals guessing about whether or not they are armed. Concealed carry is good for responding to a crime in progress; open carry is a deterrent to it. My goal is to make the case for open carry without resorting to the usual “shall not be infringed” rhetoric.

In a study published in the Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, researchers Gary Kleck and Marc Gertz found that of the nearly 2.5 million defensive uses of firearms each year, 92 percent of them scare off their attackers by merely brandishing their firearm.

Arizona passed “constitutional carry” (open and concealed carry WITHOUT a license) in 2010. Since that time, violent crimes have steadily fallen each year, according the Bureau of Justice Statistics. While it’s probably still too early to determine whether or not allowing citizens to carry without a license is responsible for the decline, it definitely can’t be linked to any increases in criminal activity. Texas ranks 35th in violent crime in the United States.

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