The idea of allowing firearms inside state psychiatric hospital is a little offbeat. Yet, that's exactly the situation in Texas after sweeping changes to the state's open carry laws took effect on Jan. 1.
USA Today reported that visitors to any one of the state's 10 mental hospitals "will be allowed to openly carry weapons into the facilities according to the Texas Department of State Health Services. Employees and patients will still be barred from bringing in weapons."
Over the past week, hospitals began removing signs that banned guns and "posted new ones asking people to leave their firearms in their cars or conceal them from patients," USA Today added.
The Austin American-Statesman reported that until Jan. 1, 2016, all "guns were banned at the state-run facilities, which house people with serious mental illnesses." Law enforcement even checked their firearms "out of an abundance of caution."
The Dallas Morning News put the change into context, saying that because of an arcane licensing statute, when the new open carry statute took effect, psychiatric hospitals were no longer considered one of the public areas that can explicitly ban guns – like schools or courts.
Speaking with the Statesman, mental health advocacy organization leader Beth Mitchell was unimpressed, saying the change was mystifying.
"I don't know who concocted this idea, who thought this would be a rational policy for the state of Texas," she reportedly said. "It's only going to create fear among the patients themselves."