Responsible CHL holders in Texas have found themselves in airport security lines and forgot they were carrying a handgun. A bill that passed the Texas State House late last week would forgive concealed handgun license (CHL) holders for airport security slips.
House Bill 554 enjoys bi-partisan support in the Texas House.
The Bill Analysis noted that airports in Dallas and Houston are among those in which the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has reported handguns being found at screening checkpoints for secured areas.
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.
Many travelers carrying handguns are lawful concealed handgun license holders who have just grown very accustomed to having their handgun with them and merely forgot that they had their handgun at the airport.
In November 2013, Texas State Representative Drew Darby was arrested in Austin. The State Representative had a .38 caliber Ruger loaded pistol in his luggage but he had forgotten about it. Darby was arrested and booked into the Travis County jail and released on a $5,000 bond. A Travis County judge later granted the Travis County District Attorney Office’s request to dismiss the case when the investigation revealed that Rep. Darby had no intent to break the law.
The bill differentiates these individuals with those who intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly bring a firearm into an airport secured area.
The bill is authored by Drew Springer (R-Muenster), Joe Pickett (D-El Paso), Ron Simmons (R-Carrollton), Ryan Guillen (D-Rio Grande City), and James Frank (R-Wichita Falls).
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.
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.
Co-authors of the bill are Charles “Doc” Anderson (R-Waco), Giovanni Capriglione (R-Southlake), Tony Dale (R-Cedar Park), Pat Fallon (R-Little Elm), Kyle Kacal (R-College Station), Joseph “Joe” Moody (D-El Paso), Jim Murphy (R-Houston), and Jason Villalba (R-Dallas).
The bill received a unanimous vote to get out of the Texas House Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee.
Witnesses who registered but did not testify before the committee included two representatives from the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS). A representative from Texas Carry testified in favor of the bill.
The bill is now in the Texas Senate.
If passed, the Act would take effect September 1, 2015.
Lana Shadwick is a contributing writer and legal analyst for Breitbart Texas. Follow her on Twitter @LanaShadwick2