Texas’ open carry law took effect at the beginning of the year, combining the state’s pre-existing concealed carry with open carry to create a single permit to carry a handgun in Texas: the license to carry (LTC).
The concerns among most open carry-averse Texans is the proliferation of permitting, which some say could make ordinary Texas sidewalks look like an old west movie.
But does the law allow you to carry multiple hanguns in the open? If so, how many guns could a permit-holder openly carry?
The short answer, as one might guess, is a lot.
But, before the armory, enforcement.
So far, the Austin Police Department has only received one call about somebody openly carrying, according to APD Commander Andy Michaels. It’s less than the department anticipated and Michaels says he hasn’t personally seen anyone open carrying yet, let alone anyone carrying multiple weapons.
“There’s nothing in the law that prohibits that. I think if you saw that it would be more likely somebody at a demonstration or something like that,” he says. “But I don’t think your day-to-day citizen or license holder is going to carry multiple guns. But, if they do, it’s well within the law.”
Michael Cargill owns Central Texas Gunworks and teaches license to carry courses to would-be carriers. Taking a break from a LTC class, he decided to test exactly how many guns one person could openly carry.
While the law doesn’t limit the number of guns a license holder can carry, it does limit the kind of holsters that house them, explicitly allowing permit-holders to use only shoulder and belt holsters.
In a demonstration, Cargill fits six guns on a belt – five of the guns are Glock 19’s, his best-selling handgun that’s an industry standard because of its light weight; the other is a Kahr, another lightweight pistol.
So, taking into account a shoulder holster that would hold two pistols, one could conceivably carry eight pistols openly. But, Cargill says, this isn’t the norm.
“Most folks open carry one pistol, and we do not open carry five or six guns. It’s not logical,” he says. “It’s just not the way to go and, you know, we don’t want to look ridiculous.”
While Cargill admits that it’s perfectly legal, that’s not taking into account how many guns one could concealed carry — a permit-holder could use an ankle holster, a pocket holster and a belly holster to carry at least 12 pistols. And, again, that's not taking into account the law that allows any resident, licensed or not, to openly carry a long gun.
The open carry law, however, allows officers to request to see any carrier’s license. APD's Andy Michaels says officers aren’t trained to immediately ask a person who’s openly carrying for a license, but an officer would, if they had probable cause or reasonable suspicion.
"It would be for additional information," he says. Maybe he had taken it out of the holster. Maybe he had been involved in a disturbance. Maybe he was inside a business that was posted with the proper signage. Things of that nature would change the call for us.”