On February 26th at 10:00 a.m. in Room E2.010 of the Capitol Extension in Austin, the Texas House Committee on Public Safety will hold a hearing on interim charge number one: "Study current laws relating to the possession of weapons, including but not limited to the administration of the concealed handgun laws, and interactions among state, local and federal laws concerning firearms. Make any appropriate recommendation to enhance the efficiency, consistency and clarity of the laws."
When the Texas Legislature originally passed the state`s "Right To Carry" law in 1995, it repeatedly rejected amendments that would gut the bill which would have given authority to state agencies and local governments to ban lawful carrying by license holders in state and local government buildings. Instead, the Legislature specifically enumerated places where concealed handgun license holders could not lawfully carry in Penal Code Sections 46.03 & 46.035.
However, changes made to the law in 1997, and an ensuing opinion from Attorney General John Cornyn (Opinion No. JC-0325), have apparently highlighted a "loophole" which state agencies and local governing entities are using to ban lawful carry on their premises.
The 1997 amendments created Penal Code Section 30.06 (Trespass By Holder of License to Carry Concealed Handgun) to establish uniform posting requirements in statute. General Cornyn`s opinion stated that although local government entities have no authority under the "Right To Carry" law to promulgate rules, regulations or policies that prohibit carrying by permit holders on their premises, these entities may be considered "owners" of such public property under Texas law and may ban carrying by posting a sign in accordance with Penal Code Section 30.06.
During the 2001 session of the Texas Legislature, Sen. Ken Armbrister & Rep. Ron Wilson carried legislation (SB 819) which sought to close this "loophole", and clarify two important points: (1) that the Legislature has exclusive authority to regulate where and when license holders may lawfully carry; and (2) that Penal Code Section 30.06 applies to private property owners only -- not governmental property.
This legislation would have ensured uniformity in Texas` "Right to Carry" law for both license holders and law enforcement. It also would have resolved apparent conflicts between the actions of some state agencies and local government entities with both the original intent of the Legislature on this issue, and with Article 1, Section 23 of the State Constitution, which gives the Legislature the sole authority to regulate "the wearing of arms."
This is a one day interim study and will generate a report that could be acted on during the 2003 session of the Texas Legislature.
We need your help!
NRA-ILA will be participating with the Texas State Rifle Association in these hearings and would like to use this opportunity to (1) highlight the extent to which state agencies and local governments are circumventing the Legislature and effectively using this "loophole" to ban carrying on premises not listed in Penal Code Sections 46.03 & 46.035; and (2) illustrate examples of such posting which do not even comply with the language required in Penal Code Section 30.06.
We are specifically interested in any photographs you can provide us of actual signs that fit into either of the two categories described above and the exact location. However, compiling a list of locations and a description of the sign would be helpful also.
Please send any such photographs or other clear concise information to:
Tara Reilly Mica
NRA-ILA Texas State Liaison
5604 Southwest Parkway #127
Austin, TX 78735
*** You may also email digital photos and/or descriptions of signs to firstname.lastname@example.org ***
Your help to document this problem is greatly appreciated. We need the information no later than February 25. The committee will hear invited testimony first, so if you have pertinent information in this regard, please contact Tara by email so that she may work with the committee to ensure that you will be given the opportunity to speak.
Also be aware that Texans For Gun Safety, the Texas Municipal League, and Americans for Gun Safety Lobbyists are aware of this interim study and may be in attendance.