Why is it so easy to openly carry rifles? - KFDA - NewsChannel 10 / Amarillo News, Weather, Sports

Why is it so easy to openly carry rifles?

Source: KFDA Source: KFDA
Source: KFDA Source: KFDA
Source: KFDA Source: KFDA
Source: KFDA Source: KFDA
AMARILLO, TX (KFDA) -

Open carry has been legal in Texas for almost a year, but Amarillo law enforcement said they still see more long guns and rifles carried openly than hand guns and pistols. 

The problem is the long guns and rifles don't require a license.

One of the most popular guns sold in Amarillo is the AR-15.

Gun experts tell us they're big sellers because they're versatile and can be used for sport and protection.

And unlike a handgun, they don't require any licensing or training to use or carry.

That's a big concern for law enforcement, who can't get their hands on these rifles as easily.

All law enforcement officers have to go through 40 hours of training and fire 800 rounds before they can carry an AR-15 on patrol.

"And after that there are annual qualifications that are required, and annual in service training," said Lt. Scott Giles of the Potter County Sheriff's Office.

It's a pretty rigorous course.

"It's something that we take very seriously," said Giles. "We want to train and prepare our officers to survive."

But for any private citizen who wants to own, use or carry an AR-15, the requirements are not that extreme.

There aren't really many requirements at all.

Assuming you have a clean criminal record, you can walk in, fill out a background check form and walk out with an AR-15 in about 15 minutes.

And there's no training required.

Anyone can walk around town holding a long gun without breaking a single law.

"If you're running around open carry with an AR strapped to your back out in the middle of downtown, that poses more of a threat," said Hayden Erwin, manager at Erwin's Pawn Shop. "You might not be threatening-looking as a person, but essentially you have the potential to shoot it 200, 300, 400 yards and farther."

People carry them around Amarillo, and if it's just strapped to their backs or pointing down to the ground, police can't do anything about it. 

The Potter County Sheriff's Office receives more calls about open carry of AR-15s than they see open carry of handguns while on patrol. 

It seems as if the law has just overlooked these bigger, more dangerous guns.

"This is Texas and the law simply does not prohibit the carrying of a long gun in a public place in genera,l and it's been that way for a long, long time," said Giles.

Just because someone owns an AR-15 doesn't automatically make them a threat.

Like Randy Blades, an Amarillo resident and AR-15 owner.

"I have an AR-15 for recreational purposes, sporting purposes and hunting purposes," said Blades. "It's just an all around good gun and it's fun to get out and shoot."

He makes it a point to keep up with his training on the gun.

"I just like to be responsible and safe with my firearms."

But that can't be said for all AR-15 owners.

"The training level of armed citizens is something that we are concerned about," said Giles.

"You should be able to take that gun out and tear it apart blindfolded and put it back together," said Potter County Sheriff Brian Thomas. "That's how familiar you should be with that weapon."

Law enforcement trains as extensively as they do to eliminate any uncertainty, and to make sure their officers are safe no matter what kind of situation they may encounter.

It will not become illegal to openly carry AR-15s any time soon.

Officers just want to be sure that if you do choose to do this, you're properly trained and safe.

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