The New Year means that Texans are allowed to carry a holstered pistol in public for the first time in over a century, under an ''open carry'' law passed in 2015 by the Republican-dominated legislature. Jillian Kitchener reports.
The first day of the new year saw many Texans embracing a new law. For the first time since 1871, licensed Texans are allowed to carry a holstered pistol in public. Supporters say the law enhances public safety. (SOUNDBITE) KENNETH SNEED, SAYING: "I feel more secure knowing I'm able to protect myself." Groups supporting the new law, like Open Carry Texas and Texas Carry, held a rally in Austin... telling people the only difference between an openly carried firearm and a concealed firearm is a thin piece of fabric. But opponents say it's scary to actually see armed people in public spaces. (SOUNDBITE) CHRYSANTHEMUM PITTS, ARLINGTON RESIDENT, SAYING: "I don't want my grandkids, I don't want my kids to be around any guns. I don't!" As of January 1st, nearly one million people in Texas -- who have passed a required safety course and have a concealed handgun permit -- are allowed to carry handguns. And that means perks at this Houston barbecue. (SOUNDBITE) TRENT BROOKS, SUPPORTS OPEN CARRY, SAYING: "If you come here with an open gun, you get 25% off." The law allows individual property owners and companies to ban 'open carry' inside their establishments. And guns are banned in places like schools, bars, sports arenas and secure areas of airports. It goes into effect just as President Obama hints at using his executive powers next week to reduce gun violence. But for now, these Texans say the open carry law actually protects them from the 'bad guys'.