Texans are excited about the new open carry laws recently signed by Governor Abbott (HB 910). I am intrigued by what I have heard about the new gun laws, so I thought I would educate myself and then pass some of that information along to you.
The first thing I learned was that the new open carry laws go into effect on January 1, 2016. Many of the bills that Governor Abbott recently signed into law went into effect on September 1, 2015, but not the open carry laws. If you started wearing your Colt on your hip on September 1st, then you need to hurry up and conceal that puppy for another four months.
There are a lot of misconceptions about Texas gun laws. The primary misconception is that our laws are simple. Having questioned a number of gun enthusiasts about Texas gun laws, I was under the impression that Texas gun laws were relatively simple. Having done a little research for this blog post, I can assure you that they are not. If this topic interests you, or if you intend to wear your handgun openly in public, I strongly recommend that you read HB 910, as well as Chapter 46 of the Texas Penal Code. You will certainly get a better understanding of just how complex our gun laws are in Texas. Frankly, the number of exceptions and restrictions sown throughout our gun laws are enough to discourage me from exercising my rights under the new open carry laws.
In reviewing HB 910, I was struck by how few changes were actually made to the existing law. HB 910 amends the following laws that formerly regulated concealed carry of handguns by those holding a conceal carry license: Sections 62.082 and 284.001 of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Code; and Sections 30.05, 30.06, 46.02, 46.03, 46.035, and 46.15 of the Texas Penal Code. The vast majority of the changes made to these sections was the deletion of the word “concealed.” Really, that was pretty much it. The word “concealed” was deleted from the phrase “concealed handgun” at least 67 times. This should tell you a lot about how the law was changed. In short, if you have a license to carry a concealed handgun, you no longer have to conceal it.
Of course, it is not really that simple. The handgun must be in a shoulder or belt holster. It is still illegal to walk around town with a handgun “in a manner calculated to cause harm.” Also, the law has not changed as to “long guns,” which Texans may still carry in the open as long as they do so in a safe manner.
Besides the deletion of the word “concealed,” here are a few of the other changes:
- Even with a license, you cannot openly carry a handgun onto property if the owner has provided written notice that handguns are not allowed. It is a Class C misdemeanor if you enter, and a Class A misdemeanor if you refuse to leave after receiving notice by oral communication.
- Even with a license, you cannot openly carry a handgun on the premises of an institution of higher education.
I hope that this post has helped you better understand the changes in the law. If I have gotten anything wrong or if you have any other comments, please feel free to share them in the comment section below.
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