“Open Carry” Law now Effective
Concealed carry by license holders has been the law of the land in Texas since 1995. Effective January 1, 2016, licensed handgun holders in Texas may lawfully carry their holstered handguns in an open manner in many public places. It is still illegal to carry a handgun on certain types of premises. For example: schools, collegiate and professional sporting events, bars, polling places, correctional facilities, government buildings, and secured areas of airports.
While the Texas Labor Code allows employees to store their firearms and ammunition in a locked private vehicle on company premises, employers may still prohibit handguns on their premises. Many companies already have “no weapons” policies that would apply regardless of whether the handgun is openly carried or concealed. However, many employers may wish to take this opportunity to revisit their policy, remind employees about the policy, and/or clarify that nothing has changed under the new law.
Companies may also prohibit concealed and openly carried handguns brought on premises by third parties. In order to create a criminal trespass violation, the new statute requires either written communication with highly specific requirements, or oral notice. The term “written communication” has a specific meaning that requires the property owner to place notice on a card or other document or otherwise post a sign in English and Spanish, that appears in contrasting colors with block letters at least one inch in height, and display the sign in a conspicuous manner clearly visible to the public at each entrance. The sign must be exact in its language, and if the sign does not comply with the law, then arguably a licensed handgun holder has not received effective notice and no criminal trespass has occurred, at least until a company representative provides oral notice of the prohibition. A business that plans to rely upon oral notice should ensure that the representative responsible for giving oral notice is prepared to effectively handle this task.
Language for concealed carry signage: “Pursuant to Section 30.06, Penal Code (trespass by license holder with a concealed handgun), a person licensed under Subchapter H, Chapter 411, Government Code (handgun licensing law), may not enter this property with a concealed handgun.”
Language for open carry signage: “Pursuant to Section 30.07, Penal Code (trespass by license holder with an openly carried handgun), a person licensed under Subchapter H, Chapter 411, Government Code (handgun licensing law), may not enter this property with a handgun that is carried openly.”