Amidst a lot of controversy, Governor Greg Abbott signed Texas’s open carry bill into law in June 2015. It went into effect on January 1, 2016, but despite the long lead time to prepare for its implementation, there is a lot of misinformation making the rounds about what the bill allows and what it does not. It is extremely important to ensure you have your facts right – failure to do so could open you up to fines or even a federal firearms violation.
What Are The Requirements?
Open carry only applies to pistols and other handguns – no license is currently required to carry a longarm. The gun in question must be carried in a shoulder or belt holster – anything that touches the belt, such as a high leg holster, will generally meet this requirement. In order to open carry, you must be over the age of 21, and have no negatives on your criminal or psychological record. You must also complete a shooting course and a classroom test in order to be permitted to open carry.
It is important to remember that places designated in the past as gun free zones must remain gun free under this new law. Examples include schools, government buildings, secured areas such as airports and courtrooms, and anywhere else covered by city, state or federal law; if you bring or fire a gun in these places, there will be consequences. Possessing and/or discharging a firearm in a school zone, for example, may lead to as much as 5 years in prison.
What Are My Rights?
Since the law’s passage, some labor under the misapprehension that they may now carry a gun wherever they please, excepting gun-free zones. This is not currently the case, as businesses and other private properties are governed by their owners as long as they are in compliance with the law.
Many private businesses, such as HEB Grocery and Whataburger, are banning guns from their premises. They are legally permitted to do this, as long as they post signs to advise customers of this policy. The law permits businesses to allow open carry, but does not mandate that they must, and many restaurant owners and other shopkeepers have chosen to not allow guns in their establishment unless they are concealed, for a multitude of reasons including safety and ability to maintain smooth and fast service.
In terms of interactions with law enforcement, you should have no problem, but sometimes, things happen. Some police personnel will be uninformed regarding open carry, while others may ignore regulations entirely. If you are carrying a handgun and are approached by a police officer do as the officer tells you. Tell the officer you are carrying a weapon and have a license to do so. Do not reach for the weapon. Let the officer tell you what to do with the weapon.
Seek Experienced Legal Counsel from Our Collin County Criminal Defense Attorneys
If you charged with an open carry violation, it is best to consult a knowledgeable attorney. The Collin County criminal defense attorneys of Rosenthal & Wadas can assist you with your case as well as any federal firearm violations. Contact us today at 877-538-8640 (toll free) to set up a free initial consultation.