HPD chief voices concern over open carry

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Chief Charles McClelland discusses concerns over open carry. (KTRK)

In a state where guns and gun owners rarely raise an eyebrow, Houston Police Chief Charles McClelland is getting ready for a major shift.

"Come January 1, 2016, Houston will be the largest city in United States where you can openly carry a handgun," said the Chief.

While the open carry of long guns has been legal for years in Texas, the open carry of handguns for those with conceal and carry licenses is new. It passed the state legislature this year, and was signed into law. Chief McClelland is worried it could pose challenges for his officers.

"How are they supposed to know the good guy from the bad guy if everyone is carrying guns?" wondered McClelland.

McClelland says he has put together new guidelines, training videos and held town hall meetings, all aimed at getting his officers ready for the change in law, though much work remains.

"We're making sure our officers are properly trained. They're well versed in the law, and when they must, for the protection of themselves or others, disarm someone, they do so in a safe manner," he said.

The chief says a bigger challenge may be teaching children how to react correctly if they see someone openly carrying weapon at a pet store, the neighborhood ice cream shop, or places young families frequent.

"Some of our kids have never been exposed to someone open carrying a handgun except for a uniformed law enforcement officer," said McClelland.

The chief says he believes the new law will make his work more difficult. However, now that open carry is the law in the state, he and his officers will follow the law, as is their duty.
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