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Texas Attorney General Releases Numerous Opinions Affecting Carry Licensees; Open Carry Law Set to Take Effect on January 1

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Texas Attorney General Releases Numerous Opinions Affecting Carry Licensees; Open Carry Law Set to Take Effect on January 1

On Monday, Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) released four opinions relating to the ability to carry on campus and individuals with Licenses to Carry (LTCs, formerly known as Concealed Handgun Licenses or CHLs).  As previously reported, the state's open carry law will take effect on January 1st and the campus carry statute, Senate Bill 11, sponsored by Sen. Brian Birdwell (R-Granbury) & Rep. Allen Fletcher (R-Tomball), will take effect in August of next year.  Click here for copies of Opinion No. KP-0047, KP-0049, KP-0050 & KP-0051.

While these opinions do not have the full force and effect of law, they do provide legal guidance on both the rights and responsibilities of affected entities and licensees.  The major takeaways from these opinions are as follows:

  • Cities and counties risk running afoul of SB 273 if they post 30.06 signs, or give verbal notice of a firearms prohibition to LTC's carrying concealed, in areas of local administrative complexes beyond courtrooms or offices deemed to be essential to operations of a court.  Sponsored and passed by state Sen. Donna Campbell & state Rep. Ryan Guillen, Senate Bill 273 imposes civil fines on state agencies, cities or counties which improperly post 30.06 signs prohibiting licensees from public property that is not otherwise off-limits to them in the Penal Code.
  • A court would likely conclude that a public college or university exceeded its authority under SB 11 if it banned concealed carry in classrooms or allowed professors to prohibit carrying in their individual classrooms.  Also, a ban on the possession of handguns by licensees in campus residential facilities would violate the provisions of SB 11 because it would have the effect of prohibiting campus carry for residents of those facilities.
  • Licensees could violate the Penal Code if they carry handguns openly or concealed about their person on the grounds where a school-sponsored activity is taking place, including areas such as streets, parking lots and sidewalks that are otherwise excluded from the definition of "premises" as it applies to nearly every other aspect of the law.  This was already current law and didn’t change with the passage of open carry.

House Bill 910, sponsored and passed by Rep. Larry Phillips (R-Sherman) & Sen. Craig Estes (R-Wichita Falls) and signed into law by Governor Greg Abbott, will take effect on January 1, 2016.  This NRA-backed legislation removes the requirement for Concealed Handgun Licensees (CHLs) to keep their handguns concealed by giving them the option of carrying their firearm either wholly or partially visible in a belt or shoulder holster.  With a 20-year record of law-abiding and responsible behavior, Texas CHLs earned this opportunity and this self-defense option. 

Below you'll find answers to some FAQs on the new statute, compiled by NRA-ILA and the Texas State Rifle Association.  Note: this should not be construed as legal advice.

HB 910 Licensed Open Carry: Frequently Asked Questions

There are very few changes to existing law beyond the removal of the word “concealed” from statute, but there are exceptions and licensees should become familiar with those changes.  

Bill Analysis for HB 910 - Licensed Open Carry

Frequently Asked Questions

  • When will the new open carry law go into effect? -- January 1, 2016.
  • Will I be required to take additional training to get a new license, one that doesn’t say “concealed”? -- No additional training is required.  After January 1, a renewed license will be for a License to Carry (LTC), rather than a Concealed Handgun License (CHL).  There is no need to obtain a new license before your current CHL expires.
  • Will there be changes to reciprocity agreements with other states? -- No.  Texans with valid carry licenses must follow reciprocal state’s laws, some of which allow open carry and others which do not.  Licenses from states which are currently recognized by Texas will continue to be honored, as long as the license holder complies with applicable laws affecting both open and concealed carry. 
  • Am I required to have a certain type of holster for my handgun if it’s fully or partially exposed? -- Yes, statute requires wholly or partially visible handguns to be carried in a belt or shoulder holster when carried on your person or in your vehicle.  There is no specific requirement for a retention holster.
  • Can I be prevented access to any location while openly carrying a handgun? -- Private property owners may prohibit access by a licensee with a wholly or partially visible handgun by posting a 30.07 sign.  You could also be given verbal notice to leave the property by the owner or manager.  Entering a 30.07-posted property with a wholly or partially visible handgun is a Class C misdemeanor; refusing to leave when you’ve been asked to do so is a class A and could cause you to lose your license.  If you are asked to leave, it is recommended that you do so immediately.  Note: If a business wants to prohibit licensees from carrying both concealed and openly, they must post both 30.06 and 30.07 signs.  NO exposed handguns are allowed on the grounds or any portion of a college campus, or in any of the prohibited locations listed in Penal Code Section 46.03 or 46.035.

Governor Abbott recently set the tone for the new law and the New Year by adopting a policy that individuals properly licensed under Chapter 411, Subchapter H, of the Texas Government Code may carry a handgun openly or concealed on the premises of the Office of the Governor in accordance with state law.  Similarly, the Texas Legislature did not impose any new restrictions on carrying in the Capitol by individuals in possession of a valid License to Carry with passage of HB 910.  These examples will hopefully dissuade local governments from attempting to pass illegal ordinances and post improper signs as open carry takes effect next year. 

Please notify NRA-ILA if you hear that your city or county is considering an ordinance limiting your carry rights; if you suspect that local officials have posted property off-limits to licensees that should not be prohibited under the law, alert the Attorney General's office at www.texasattorneygeneral.gov/apps/3006.  Please note that the AG's office only has the authority to investigate complaint about the illegal posting of 30.06 signs.

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NRA ILA

Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.