By Tony Stergio
Texas’ new open carry law goes into effect on January 1, 2016. Any business that wishes to ban the open carry of weapons within their establishment must post a specific sign, in English and Spanish, in at least 1” text, the word for word language of the statute.
If the sign doesn’t comply with the language of the law, then arguably a licensed handgun holder does not receive effective notice. In order to prohibit open carry on a property, the business must display a sign that says the following: Pursuant to Section 30.07, Penal Code (trespass by license holder with an openly carried handgun), a person licensed under Subchapter H, Chapter 411, Government Code (handgun licensing law), may not enter this property with a handgun that is carried openly. Under the new law, a property owner may prohibit open carry of a handgun by properly displaying a Section 30.07 notice while still allowing concealed carry on the property. If the business elects to prohibit concealed carry, effective January 1, 2016, they will have to display a new sign which must state that: Pursuant to Section 30.06, Penal Code (trespass by license holder with a concealed handgun), a person licensed under Subchapter H, Chapter 411, Government Code (handgun licensing law), may not enter this property with a concealed handgun. Businesses that want to prohibit both concealed and open carry must display both signs in a manner required by Sections 30.06 and 30.07 of the Penal Code.
Exceptions for Some?
The above statutory signs are used to give notice to licensed gun owners that entrance onto an owner’s property, with a concealed and/or open carry handgun, is not permitted. If there are no signs posted on the premises, no notice is given that carrying is prohibited, although owners will still be able to orally tell gun carriers they aren’t welcome. If statutory notice signs are posted, however, a property owner can presumably also verbally consent to a person entering the property while carrying. This would effectively establish consent and allow the person to enter the property, with either concealed or open carry, notwithstanding the posted sign.
Employees and Parking Lots
While employers can prohibit employees from bringing guns into the workplace they can’t prohibit employees, who lawfully possess concealed handguns and ammunition, from storing such handguns and ammunition in their own vehicles in the employers’ parking lot. The law is silent as to whether employees can store their handguns loaded with ammunition. Texas employers can still prohibit the storage of firearms and ammunition in company owned or leased vehicles. Schools, chemical manufacturers and oil and gas refineries are excluded from the law and they retain the ability to form their own policies with respect to guns in their parking lot.