On Monday, May 6, representatives from NRA-ILA and TSRA, former State Senator and author of Texas`"Right To Carry" law Jerry Patterson, and State Rep. Rick Green (R-Dripping Springs) attended a meeting of the Hays County Republican Party to discuss the issue of cities and counties circumventing the Legislature and using the criminal trespass law to post signs prohibiting concealed handgun license holder access to their premises. The guests were invited by Republican activist, NRA member and CHL instructor Mike Cox.
Within a few days of the presentation to attendees, which included some local elected officials in Hays County, all questionable signs on county buildings and facilities had been ordered removed by Hays County Judge Jim Powers. We appreciate his thoughtfulness on this important issue and the actions he has taken to remedy the situation at the county level!
Earlier this year, the Texas House Public Safety Committee held an interim hearing on this very issue, during which legislative representatives from NRA-ILA and TSRA explained the origin of the CHL "Loophole":
* During debate on the original "Right To Carry" law in 1995, the Texas Legislature rejected amendments which would have allowed state agencies, and city or county governments to ban license holders from carrying on their premises. Instead, the Legislature specifically enumerated places which are off-limits to license holders in Sections 46.03 and 46.035 of the Penal Code. The Legislature also amended the state`s firearms preemption law to clarify that localities could not restrict carrying by CHLs.
* Changes were made to the criminal trespass law in 1997, which aimed to establish tough, uniform posting requirements for private property owners wishing to restrict access to their premises by CHLs. However, a legal opinion effectively allowed for similar posting on public property. The opinion stated that although local governing entities have no authority under the "Right To Carry" law to prohibit carrying on their premises, they may post signs in accordance with the criminal trespass statute to ban such activity.
This "loophole" for county and municipal governments has led to a proliferation of signs on public buildings across the state -- pictures of which were displayed for the Public Safety Committee and for the attendees at the Hays County Republican Party meeting.
NRA-ILA and TSRA will continue to push locally for removal of these signs on public buildings, as we believe they violate both the spirit and legislative intent of the state`s "Right To Carry" law. We will also work to close this "loophole" at the state level and reassert the Legislature`s power to regulate the wearing of arms, as stated in both the state constitution and the state`s firearms preemption law.
If you are interested in arranging a similar presentation before your local party organization or local elected officials, please contact Mike Cox at email@example.com, or Alice Tripp with TSRA at AGTripp@aol.com or Tara Reilly Mica, NRA-ILA Texas State Liaison at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.