A group of gun owners, instructors and range safety officers gathered at their usual spot Saturday morning at J&B Coffee Co. in Lubbock, but this time they had their guns openly displayed in their hip holsters.

Jay Temple, Barry Taylor and Kurt Wilkes sipped their coffee as they discussed Texas’ new open carry law, its impact on local businesses and comments they’ve heard from others around town.

The law, which went into effect Friday, allows owners of concealed carry licenses to openly carry a handgun in a shoulder- or hip holster in public places unless the property posts required signage saying guns are prohibited.

“I have a feeling several of them are playing the wait-and-see game. They’re wanting to see what their competition is going to do,” said Taylor, an NRA-certified range safety officer. “They might lose some clients if they allow it, but then if they disallow it, (they) might lose some, so they’re sitting there kinda walking a fine line.”

Temple, owner of Straight Shooter in Lubbock, chimed in saying he would understand why a place that serves alcohol wouldn’t want its patrons to openly carry firearms. And Wilkes, a representative at Texas Law Shield, talked about how the law will likely have amendments, such as requiring the holsters to have a restraint so the weapon isn’t as easily accessible to someone other than the gun-holder.

Throughout the nearly two-hour visit, a stream of people placed orders as Temple and Taylor sat with their guns in plain view in their hip holsters.

College-age students worked on their laptops, friends chatted and a family talked as their toddler playfully ran past the trio’s table several times.

Outside of possibly when they were standing to place an order, it didn’t appear as if anyone gave them — or their guns — a second glance.

Temple said he wasn’t surprised.

“I’m looking for the eyebrow raises, someone who actually notices (but) people are so oblivious to what’s going on around them,” Temple said. “You’ve got that table of six people over here and they don’t even know we’re sitting here. … I would like a little attention. I want someone to ask some questions because it all boils back down to education. The reason people are scared (of open or concealed carry) is their lack of knowledge.”

Temple, who rounded up the group to meet and open carry on Saturday, said he always carries his gun, but conceals it. The reason he decided to open carry that day was to spur education and conversation.

“This will be the only day we truly open carry,” he said. “I like for defensive purposes, that’s why I carry guns. I don’t do it because I’m macho; I don’t do it because I’m a guy. I do it because I refuse to be a victim and I refuse to allow those around me to be a victim. I want the gun to be as successful as possible, so I want one layer clothing between me and my gun.”

After their stop at J&B Coffee, Taylor and Temple spent the afternoon visiting eateries and stores, such as Academy Sports and Cabela’s, neither of which had a posted sign prohibiting open carry. But, with this winter’s cold weather, they kept their jackets on, therefore keeping their handguns concealed on their hips.

Although the law went into effect Friday, Taylor said he anticipates more people will actually notice others open carrying when temperatures warm up.

“These people that are going to raise their eyebrows … and be overly concerned, I’d be curious to know from that type of person if they realize how many people for the last 20 years (carry guns) in stores that they’re going into,” he said. “They’ve just been carrying them concealed.”

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(c)2016 the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal (Lubbock, Texas)

Visit the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal (Lubbock, Texas) at www.lubbockonline.com

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