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Open Carry in Effect for Texans

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Texans with a “Concealed Handgun License” or the new “License to Carry” can openly carry a handgun in accordance with the new law that went into effect at midnight on Friday.

Other new laws expanding protections of law abiding gun owners also went into effect. The Campus Carry law has not yet taken effect.

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Late in 2015, the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) began issuing the new “License to Carry” (LTC). The new license replaces the prior Concealed Handgun License (CHL). If you currently hold a CHL do you not need to get an updated LTC, according to a statement obtained by Breitbart Texas from the DPS.

A rally will be held on Friday at about 1 p.m. on the grounds of the Texas Capitol to celebrate the new open-carry law. The event, sponsored by Open Carry Texas and Texas Carry, is expected to draw about 300 people and a swarm of news media outlets. The rally, dubbed the “Official Uncovering of the Handgun Rally” is being held to celebrate the returned freedom of open carry in Texas.

The DPS offers the following guidelines to understanding the new law:

  • Authorizes individuals to obtain a license to openly carry a handgun in the same places that allow the licensed carrying of a concealed handgun with some exceptions.  (See “Exceptions” below for more information.)
  • Unconcealed handguns, loaded or unloaded, must be carried in a shoulder or belt holster.
  • Individuals who hold a valid CHL may continue to carry with valid existing license.
  • A separate license will not be required to open carry.  No additional fee will be required.
  • Individuals currently licensed will not be required to attend additional training.  Training curriculum for new applicants will be updated to reflect the new training requirements related to the use of restraint holsters and methods to ensure the secure carrying of openly carried handguns.  The new curriculum will be required for all classes beginning January 1, 2016.
  • The eligibility criteria to obtain a license to carry do not change.
  • The department has updated the website and training materials to reference License to Carry (LTC) instead of Concealed Handgun License (CHL).
  • Changes to the laminated license have been implemented.  For examples of licenses currently in circulation, see:  LTC sample.

Licensees will need to be aware of the new “30.07  signs” that some stores and businesses will be able to post prohibiting the open carry of firearms. The sign must be posted at all entrances to the business establishment. It must be posted in English and Spanish and must contain at least one-inch block letters contrasting in color from the background of the sign. It must contain the exact wording below to carry legal weight:

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.

Other stores may choose to allow also not allow concealed carry. Those businesses must post the following sign, in addition to the 30.07 sign:

Pursuant to Section 30.06, Penal Code (trespass by holder of license to carry a concealed handgun), a person licensed under Subchapter H, Chapter 411, Government Code (concealed handgun law), may not enter this property with a concealed handgun.

More information can be found at the DPS’ FAQ page on handgun licensing.

The DPS lists the following exceptions to where LTC holders can openly carry a handgun:

  • Open carry is not permitted by a license holder regardless of whether the handgun is holstered:
    • on the premises of an institution of higher education or private or independent institution of higher education
    • on any public or private driveway, street, sidewalk or walkway, parking lot, parking garage or other parking area of an institution of higher education or private or independent institution of higher education
    • by an individual who is acting as a personal protection officer under Chapter 1702, Occupations Code  and is not wearing a uniform

Also effective earlier in 2015 was a new law, previously reported by Breitbart Texas’ Lana Shadwick, that allows a “defense to prosecution” for people who accidentally carry a weapon into the secured area of an airport. Under the old law, travelers who are found carrying a handgun and certain other weapons in or into the secured area of an airport, are currently subject to immediate arrest and confiscation of their handgun. The offense is a state felony.

The bill makes it a defense to prosecution for possessing or carrying a weapon in or into the secured area of an airport if a CHL holder possessed a handgun at the security screening checkpoint and exited the area immediately upon notification that he or she possessed the handgun, Shadwick reported.

A peace officer could not arrest the CHL holder unless the officer advises the individual of the defense available and gives the actor an opportunity to exit the screening checkpoint for the secured area and the actor does not immediately exit.

The DPS reports the following:

House Bill 554   Effective:  September 1, 2015

Caption: Relating to a defense to prosecution for the offense of possessing or carrying a weapon in or into the secured area of an airport.

  • Amends the Penal Code to add a defense to prosecution if the actor possessed a handgun that he or she is licensed to carry at the security checkpoint of an airport, and exited the screening checkpoint for the secured area immediately upon completion of the required screening process and notification of possession of the handgun.
  • Adds the actor cannot be arrested for the sole offense of possessing a handgun that he or she is licensed to carry, unless a police officer gives the actor the opportunity to leave the area and he or she does not immediately comply.

House Bill 1376   Effective:  September 1, 2015

Caption:  Relating to the application of certain concealed handgun license laws to community supervision and corrections department officers and juvenile probation officers; reducing a fee.

  • Allows supervision officers and juvenile probation officers to establish proof of proficiency by a sworn statement that indicates the person demonstrated proficiency with a firearm instructor licensed by the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement within the 12 month period preceding the application for the license to carry.
  • This provision applies to supervision officers appointed or employed under Section 76.004, Government Code, to supervise defendants placed on community supervision.
    • Reduces the fee for a license to carry to $25 for these individuals.
  • Individuals applying under this special condition will be required to provide proof they are a supervision officer or juvenile probation officer.
  • A new fee schedule will be posted on the department’s website.

House Bill 2604    Effective:  September 1, 2015

Caption: Relating to a concealed handgun license application that is submitted by a peace officer or a member of the state military forces.

  • Exempts applicants who are active peace officers from the requirement to submit fingerprints.
  • Repeals the provisions requiring a sworn statement from the head of the employing law enforcement agency regarding the applicant’s conduct and proficiency.
  • Regulatory Services Division (RSD) is in the process of updating the online application checklist.  Until the online application is updated, peace officers may disregard the notations requiring fingerprints and the sworn statement from the head of their employing law enforcement agency.
  • Updated application instructions for peace officers is available on the department’s website at:  Application Instructions for Peace officers/Prosecutors 

House Bill 2739   Effective:  September 1, 2015

Caption:  Relating to the use of a concealed handgun license as valid proof of personal identification.

  • Amends the Business and Commerce Code to require businesses to accept a LTC as a valid form of personal identification for access to goods, services, or facilities.
  • Does not affect laws requiring a driver license to operate a motor vehicle.
  • Does not effect the existing requirement to present a driver license when renting a car.
  • Does not affect the type of identification required under federal law to access airport premises or to pass through airport security.

House Bill 3710   Effective:  September 1, 2015

Caption:  Relating to a voluntary contribution to the fund for veterans’ assistance when applying for a concealed handgun license.

  • Requires DPS to offer LTC applicants an opportunity to contribute money to the fund for veterans’ assistance when applying for an original or renewal license.
  • The applicant will determine the amount of contribution.

House Bill 3747   Effective:  June 16, 2015

Caption:  Relating to the issuance of a concealed handgun license to certain retired judicial officers.

  • Authorizes retired federal judges to receive a discounted LTC in the same manner as a retired state judge.
  • The reduced fee is $25.  A new fee schedule will be posted on the department’s website.

Senate Bill 273   Effective: September 1, 2015

Caption: Relating to certain offenses relating to carrying concealed handguns on property owned or leased by a governmental entity; providing a civil penalty.

  • Prohibits a state agency or political subdivision from posting signs stating where license holders are prohibited from carrying a concealed handgun on the premises, unless specifically prohibited by Texas Penal Code 46.03 and 46.035.
  • Provides a civil penalty to a state agency or political subdivision if falsely notifying a license holder that entering or remaining on certain governmental premises, leased or owned, is illegal.
  • Limits the scope of the governmental meeting prohibition by restricting it to the specific room or rooms in which the meeting is being held, and to public meetings for which notice is required under the Open Meetings Act.
  • Provides an opportunity for the agency or subdivision to cure the violation within three business days of receipt of written notice from a citizen.
  • Complaints of a violation are reported to the Attorney General Office.  More information may be found on the Texas Attorney General website at:  Office of the Texas Attorney General
  • Provides the Attorney General must give notice to the agency or subdivision and provide an opportunity to cure the violation before a civil penalty is imposed.

The new Campus Carry law will not become effective until August 1, 2016, the DPS reports.

Senate Bill 11    Effective: August 1, 2016

Caption:  Relating to the carrying of handguns on the campuses of and certain other locations associated with institutions of higher education; providing a criminal penalty.  

  • Authorizes a license holder to carry a concealed handgun on or about the license holder’s person while the license holder is on the campus of an institution of higher education or private or independent institution of higher education in this state.   Open carrying of handguns is still prohibited at these locations.
  • Authorizes an institution of higher education or private or independent institution of higher education in this state to establish rules, regulation, or other provisions concerning the storage of handguns in dormitories or other residential facilities that are owned or leased and operated by the institution and located on the campus of the institution.
  • Requires the president or other chief executive officer of an institution of higher education in this state to establish reasonable rules, regulations, or other provisions regarding the carrying of concealed handguns by license holders on the campus or on specific premises located on the campus.
  • Authorizes posting of a sign under Penal Code Section 30.06 with respect to any portion of a premises on which license holders may not carry.
  • The effective date of this law for a public junior college is August 1, 2017

Bob Price serves as associate editor and senior political news contributor for Breitbart Texas and is a member of the original Breitbart Texas team. Follow him on Twitter @BobPriceBBTX.


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