New constitutional carry law draws criticism, applause from Houstonians

HOUSTON – When it comes to carrying guns without a permit, Houstonians shared varying opinions.

At HTX Tactical Custom Firearms and Outdoors, the owner believes it will add to public safety.

“More so to defend themselves. There’s so much going on these days it’s a crazy world out there,” said Co-owner George Abrego.

While others are on a different page. Angelica Halphen, who fears a rise in gun violence, condemns the new constitutional carry law.

“It’s gonna get worse. It’s not going to get better,” Halphen said.

Halphen said her 18-year-old son Harrison Schmidt was killed in a 2019 road rage shooting by someone who had a legal firearm.

“If my son could be shot by somebody who had a gun legally that lost his temper, what’s going to happen with this,” Halphen said.

She shared similar concerns with Precinct 2 Commissioner Adrian Garcia. On Wednesday, Garcia held a round table discussion where he laid out some of his main objections.

“In my opinion, it is making Texas less safe. It is taking authority away from local government to make counties and communities safer,” Garcia said.

In his closing remarks, he said: “It’s clear that we are on our own, Harris County. Texas state leaders, beholden to fears of primary challenges are more concerned with their political future than you being able to go to your kids’ ballgame without fear of being shot.”

Under the new law local government entities can no longer ban weapons in public places like parks and libraries, but with proper signage displayed private businesses can still prohibit firearms.

On the other hand, laws around purchasing guns have not changed which means buyers are still subjected to the same screening processes. Some gun manufacturers said the new law makes them feel safer.

”We see deaths and shootings happening every day on the news, I think everybody deserves the opportunity to protect themselves,” Abrego said.

The list of prohibited county government measures Commissioner mentioned includes (but is not limited to) the following:

• HARRIS COUNTY CANNOT Mandate safe storage of weapons in vehicles

• HARRIS COUNTY CANNOT Ban weapons in public spaces including parks, community centers, libraries, and government facilities (such as the Tax Assessors offices).

• HARRIS COUNTY CANNOT Force background checks on weapons purchased in county facilities such as convention spaces

• HARRIS COUNTY CANNOT Require licensing

• HARRIS COUNTY CANNOT Disallow weapons at performance spaces (such as Wortham Center, Miller Outdoor Theater and Discovery Green)

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