Wednesday is the third day of early voting in Texas, and already a record number of people have packed into polling locations across the state. But no matter which candidate you’re shooting for, election workers are reminding Texans to leave your guns at home.
Texas is one of six states that generally prohibits guns in polling places. According to the state law, firearms are not allowed within 100 feet of a polling place or voting station on the day of election or while early voting is in progress.
“I don’t see any reason why Texans shouldn’t be able to carry their guns into polling places,” Robert Farago, founder of the Truth About Guns said. “Obviously, you can’t use your firearm to intimidate somebody, but the firearm in and of itself is not an intimidation. It is an expression of our natural right to keep and bear arms.”
Farago says the current law is a violation of the second amendment right and could deter some people from voting.
“We, gun owners, are not a threat in those areas,” Farago said. “I know that scares and shocks some people, but there really is no reason why we shouldn’t be able to exercise that right in these so called sensitive places.”
Texans on both sides of the aisle are calling on lawmakers to change the current law. Groups against guns say it shows an inconsistency in Texas law.
“Anytime a gun is present, there is a risk,” Andrea Brauer with Texas Gun Sense said. “Our legislature and our state are saying it’s okay to carry around college kids in a classroom, but it’s not okay to carry when you vote.”
Brauer says she does not think guns belong in polling places or on college campuses, referring to the state’s campus carry law that took effect in August.
“I think it highlights the inconsistencies in our laws,” Brauer said. “I know the legislature is about to go back into session in January of 2017, and we hope that they will think about these laws and the inconsistencies.”
The state’s open carry law took effect January 1st of this year. It allows concealed handgun license holders to carry visible, holstered handguns in public, with the exception of several designated “gun-free zones”. Polling locations are considered “gun-free zones”, along with schools, courtrooms and secured areas of airports.
Texas also welcomed guns on college campuses in August. The controversial campus carry law allows licensed holders to carry concealed handguns inside classrooms on public college campuses in Texas.