The new law in Texas that allows handguns to be openly carried in many public places even permits licensed handgun owners to bring pistols into state-run psychiatric hospitals.
The unexpected feature of the open carry law became apparent when the Austin State Hospital recently took down its "no guns" signs. The development was first reported by the Austin American-Statesman and affects 10 mental health facilities, according to the Department of State Health.
On Jan. 1, a law went into effect allowing nearly 1 million Texans who have passed a safety course and obtained a permit to publicly carry holstered handguns. Supporters said it would enhance public safety, while detractors believe it will lead to more violence.
Prior to the hotly contested law taking effect, there had been debate about how the law would affect life on college campuses. A University of Texas panel recommended banning guns in dormitories, but the state's attorney general had said that would violate the new law.
The revelation about the psychiatric hospitals shows another way the open-carry law created unintended consequences.
Even an official from one of the state's largest groups advocating for the law told the Austin American-Statesman that he didn't envision an environment where guns would be acceptable in psychiatric hospitals. Texas Carry executive director Terry Holcomb said legislators should examine this aspect of the law.
The signs that previously said guns are forbidden on hospital premises have been replaced with ones asking people to leave their weapons in their cars or to keep them concealed.