Police tell public they won’t pick fights over new guns law
By Lora-Marie Bernard
THE MESSAGE from the county’s first open-carry town-hall meeting was clear. The county’s law-enforcement agencies want as little to do with a person’s gun as possible.
District attorney Jack Roady, below right, and League City police chief Michael Kramm, left, and city attorney Nghiem Doan spent two hours last week telling a standing-room-only audience from around the county that they don’t want to interfere with the law.
“We don’t need to pick a fight if there’s not one there,” Kramm said. “We don’t arbitrarily disarm people just because we get a little queasy.”
More than 300 people packed the city’s auditorium last week to discuss the legislation. The city is known for having the “highest per capita rate for concealed handguns in the state”, according to several published news articles dating back to 2010.
That statistic caused police to hold the meeting to begin a dialogue with the public.
Reagan Pena, the public information officer who organized the meeting for the League City police department, said its officers want to prepare gun-permit owners for what to expect in their daily lives.
“We know there are hundreds of people in League City who have CHL permits and they have for years,” she said.
The new Texas law, which goes into effect on January 1, will allow every Texan who has a concealed-handgun license to display his or her weapon in a shoulder or belt holster. Anyone who doesn’t have the CHL permit when the new year begins will have to undergo training to be able to openly carry a handgun.
Kramm told the audience he doesn’t recommend open carry. “It shows your hand,” he said when asked by a member of the audience.
But he said he expects to see open-carry in the county and called for a tone of understanding and respect. He said many people who are not used to guns are moving to the area in and around League City. A displayed weapon could alarm them, he said, warning that people who decide to carry their weapons openly must regard themselves as responsible representatives of everyone who does so.
“For those of you who decide to open carry, you represent every open-carry person,” he said.
“If you act high and right when you encounter someone who is alarmed, how you act will be the first reputation that will be out there. You are ambassadors for each other. Be courteous. Be civil.”
Several people said they had read and heard in social media that anti-gun activists intend to provoke people displaying their guns and call police when they see them. The gun owners said they wanted to know the police would not “show up in SWAT gear.”
Kramm tried to calm their fears. If the establishment allows open carry, licensed gun owners can legally display their weapons, he said.
He sought to reassure the public that police officers will enforce the law in a common-sense manner.
“If we roll up and you’re shopping in the produce aisle in Walmart, and you’re not acting suspiciously, the chances are that we will turn around and go home,” he said.