On Jan, 1st, 2016, Texas will become the 45th state to allow some form of “OPEN CARRY” of handguns. The Navarro County Sheriff’s Office believes in the 2nd Amendment and the rights of the citizens to own firearms. Our deputies have been educated on the current law and will be attending future TCOLE classes for continuing education. We will also be working to educate our public on the new law. There will be some learning curve on both sides of the fence and our hope and intent is for the deputies enforcing the laws and our citizens to both be fully knowledgeable on the subject and work together to make Navarro County a safer place.
We have compiled this information from other area department’s Facebook postings combined with our local policies into one posting. Many questions/answers have already been received and we are posting them at the bottom for you to review.
EXACTLY…. WHAT IS CHANGING?
- The name is changing from Concealed Handgun License or “CHL”; to Handgun License, or “HL”.
- Beginning January 1st, citizens all across the State of Texas may begin seeing people prominently and lawfully wearing handguns… outside their clothing.
- All current “CHL” holders will be “grandfathered” into the new “HL” program. If you already have a valid “CHL” there is absolutely nothing you need to do. The “CHL” you are holding will now be referred to as a “HL” or License to Carry. - - Beginning Jan. 1st, Texas will no longer issue new (or renewal) “CHL’s”; but begin issuing the new “HL”, or Handgun License.
- The biggest change is that “licensed” gun owners are no longer required to hide or “conceal” the weapon they are carrying, but now have the option to carry that weapon openly (outside their clothing) or continue to carry in a concealed manner. If they choose to “open carry”, the law states that their weapon MUST BE IN A HOLSTER…worn on the shoulder or belt.
WHAT IS NOT CHANGING?
- The basic “CHL or HL” laws, rules and regulations are not changing. Citizens still need a license to carry a handgun (openly or concealed) in the State of Texas. Laws concerning license eligibility, who can legally carry and where it is legal to carry have not changed. REMEMBER: This new law ONLY applies to handguns and to valid handgun license holders.
- ATTENTION: ALL VALID TEXAS HANDGUN LICENSE HOLDERS: Everywhere you can legally concealed carry now, you will be able to open carry after Jan. 1, 2016.
*It is already legal to openly display long-guns, shotguns and rifles in public; as long as it is done in a non-threatening or alarming manner. No license or permit is required.
SOME BASIC FIREARM LAWS OF THE STATE OF TEXAS
In Texas, it is generally illegal to carry a handgun outside of a person’s own premises*, however, there are several places where a person may possess a handgun legally without a license. *Assuming the person is legally allowed to possess a weapon.
INSTANCES WHERE NO LICENSE IS REQUIRED:
- A person who is legally allowed to possess a weapon does not need a license to carry a handgun at their residence.
- A person who is legally allowed to possess a weapon does not need a license to carry a handgun in their vehicle or boat. *The handgun can be loaded or unloaded, but must be concealed at all times.
- If the person has a valid “HL”, the person may “open carry” in the vehicle if the handgun is in a shoulder holster or holster attached to the belt.
- A person who is legally allowed to possess a weapon does not need a license to carry a handgun when engaging in lawful fishing, hunting, or other sporting activity on the immediate premises where the activity is conducted, or is en route between the premises and the persons’ residence or motor vehicle, if the firearm is a type commonly used in the activity.
*Remember: * A person who is legally allowed to possess a weapon does not need a license to carry long-guns, shotguns and rifles in public; as long as it is done in a non-threatening or alarming manner.
ABSOLUTELY NO GUNS ALLOWED….
Under Texas Law… every handgun license holder knows that there are universally designated places where handguns are never allowed.
License holders may never carry guns onto the premises of schools, school-related functions (i.e. football games), courtrooms, secure areas of airports, polling places, and post offices. It is also illegal to carry into any business that receives at least 51 percent of it’s revenue from alcohol sales; as designated by a proper “51% sign at each entrance.
In most cases, parking lots, sidewalks and driveways are not included in the definition of “premises.”
WHAT ABOUT EVERYWHERE ELSE…. ?
Is it legal to “OPEN CARRY” into a bank or a restaurant? What about a movie theater, a hospital, a nursing home or an amusement park. What about the airport when I go to pick up Aunt Sally?
THE answer is YES, IT IS LEGAL; UNLESS YOU SEE A VALID “30.06 Sign”; A VALID “30.07 Sign”; OR A VALID “51% Sign” posted at the entrance. *Or, unless the owner (or someone with authority) gives you verbal notification.
THE 3 SIGNS THAT LEGALLY PROHIBIT GUNS.
There are 3 signs that determine if it is legal to enter the premises with a handgun.
*TABC does require a 4th legal sign at all establishments licensed to sell alcohol, but it doesn’t prohibit valid handgun license holders from entering any premises.
- A “51% Sign”: NO GUNS ALLOWED ON THESE PREMISES. This sign is posted at the entrance of any business that earns more than 51% of it’s revenue from the sale of alcohol. (ie. Clubs, bars, etc.)
- A “30.06 Sign”: “CONCEALED CARRY” IS NOT ALLOWED ON THESE PREMISES. This sign must be posted at each entrance of any business wishing to prohibit Concealed Carry of handguns. *A “30.06 Sign” only prohibits concealed carry! This sign does not prohibit “OPEN CARRY”!
- A “30.07 Sign”: “OPEN CARRY” IS NOT ALLOWED ON THESE PREMISES. This sign must be posted at each entrance of any business wishing to prohibit Concealed Carry of handguns. *A “30.07 Sign” only prohibits open carry! This sign does not prohibit “CONCEALED CARRY”!
TO BE LEGALLY BINDING, both 30.06 signs and 30.07 signs must contain exact wording as specified in their respective sections of the Texas Penal Code. The text must be 1” tall, in contrasting colors and be in both English and Spanish!
How the signs work – Example:
Take churches for example. Many already allow concealed carry, but may choose not to allow open carry after Jan. 1st.. They can post a 30.07 at each entrance; or simply verbally inform violators that open carry is not allowed.
If a church (or any other business or entity) wants to ban guns from their premises all together, they MUST POST BOTH SIGNS (30.06 & 30.07) AT EACH ENTRANCE.
DON’T BE ALARMED, BUT BE AWARE AND CAUTIOUS.
“OPEN CARRY” is going to be something that everyone will have to get used to. Initially it will be weird to see someone carrying a handgun in the grocery store, in a bank or at a gas pump.
Be aware that the police are required to follow-up on every call, so please don’t call just because you see someone "legally" wearing a handgun in a holster worn on the shoulder of belt!
DO CALL THE POLICE IMMEDIATELY….
- if you see someone with a handgun that is NOT in a shoulder or belt holster.
- If you see someone remove their handgun from a properly worn holster and use it to scare, threaten or intimidate. *Even if driving at the time.
- If you see someone “open carrying” a handgun, and that person appears to be impaired or intoxicated.
- If you see someone “open carrying” a handgun into a prohibited place such as onto the premises of schools, school-related functions (i.e. football games), courtrooms, secure areas of airports, polling places, post offices.
- Also, if a person is “Open Carrying” in an establishment that is clearly marked with a “Legal 51% sign” or a “Legal 30.07 sign”.
- ALWAYS CALL... anytime you see someone acting in a reckless or suspicious manner, but especially if they are carrying a weapon.
MY RIGHTS ...
- Question: If an officer sees me openly carrying a handgun in a shoulder or belt holster, is that officer legally able to ask me for proof that I have a CHL or LTC?
* Answer: Yes, since constitutional carry did not pass, the officer is within his or her right to ask you for your license. Also, when you get your CHL, you are instructed that if a police officer asks you for your CHL license, you must provide it.
- Question: If I am carrying a handgun, and I am approached by a police officer, what steps should I take to ensure that the police officer and myself both feel safe during this transaction?
* Answer: Do as the officer asks. Tell the officer you are carrying a weapon and have a license to do so. Do not reach for the weapon, have the officer tell you what to do with the weapon.
"The Q&A below was developed out of public hearings from other departments such as Houston PD that have held public forums as well as our Facebook inbox, our website and general questions we have fielded from citizens and business owners.
Question: If a person is open carrying a handgun, how does a police officer determine if he is carrying the handgun legally?
Answer: Constitutional carry did not pass in Texas, so a police officer has the right to ask you to prove that you have a HL (Handgun License). If you are asked by a police officer to prove that you are allowed to carry a handgun, you must produce identification.
Question: If I see a person open carrying a handgun, should I call the police?
Answer: Yes you can call the police, but before you call, observe how the person is acting. If they are acting suspicious, or enter a building such as a school, then please give us a call. But, if they are simply at a gas station filling up their car, then they are probably a law abiding citizen who is legally open carrying.
Question: If you are walking down a street, and an officer approaches you, is it a voluntary encounter, or at this point am I “detained”?
Answer: Technically, you are temporarily detained so that the officer can check your license and make sure that you are legally able to carry a handgun.
Question: If I am open carrying a handgun, am I allowed to get out of my car, take the holster off my belt, and place it into the trunk of my car?
Answer: Yes you are able to do that.
Question: As a parent, I am concerned with my kids being around people open carrying a handgun. What do I tell my kids to do when they see someone with a pistol on their hip?
Answer: Again, it is situational. If your kids see someone in a grocery store shopping, they should not be alarmed if that person is carrying a handgun. But if they are at school, and they see a person (who is not a Police officer) carrying a gun, they should immediately tell someone and/or call 911.
Question: In a government building such as a police station, can someone carry a handgun?
Answer: Yes you can, but only in the areas that are open to the public. So if that person has to go to a portion of the building where a normal citizen would not be allowed, they are not allowed to carry a handgun.
Question: Will the presence of an open carried handgun during a verbal altercation between two people, elevate this altercation to an aggravated assault because a handgun has been “exhibited”?
Answer: No, it will not be considered aggravated assault as long as the person carrying the weapon was not threatening to use it.
Question: Since an open carried weapon must either be carried in a shoulder holster or a belt holster, will there be a set standard that constitutes what is considered a shoulder or belt holster?
Answer: Currently there is no standard that constitutes what is a shoulder or belt holster.
Question: If an officer sees me openly carrying a handgun in a shoulder or belt holster, is that officer legally able to ask me for proof that I have a HL?
Answer: Yes, since constitutional carry did not pass, the officer is within his or her right to ask you for your license. Also, when you get your HL, you are instructed that if a police officer asks you for your HL license, you must provide it.
Question: If I am carrying a handgun, and I am approached by a police officer, what steps should I take to ensure that the police officer and myself both feel safe during this transaction?
Answer: Do as the officer asks. Tell the officer you are carrying a weapon and have a license to do so. Do not reach for the weapon, have the officer tell you what to do with the weapon.
Question: Once a police officer determines that you are carrying a handgun legally, does the situation turn from the person being detained, to being a casual encounter?
Answer: Yes. After the person has proved that they are carrying a weapon legally, they are free to go as long as they only reason they were stopped was for proof for a HL.
Question: If I want to prohibit both concealed carry and open carry in my private business what signs do I need to have displayed?
Answer: You must have the 30.06 (concealed carry) and the 30.07 (open carry) signs posted in the front windows of your business.
Question: If I am a private business owner and I do not have the proper 30.06 and 30.07 signs posted and I ask someone to leave my store who is carrying a weapon, are they still legally required to leave even though I don’t have the proper signs?
Answer: Yes. As a private business owner you can tell someone to leave if they are carrying a weapon whether you have or don’t have the proper signs posted.
Question: If I use a “drop leg” holster that holds my gun around the middle of my thigh, will I get arrested for having an improper holster?
Answer: No you will not be arrested for that type of holster. It is still mounted to your belt which is the requirement in the law.
Question: If my private business has multiple entrances, can I post the 30.06 and 30.07 signs at the main entrance, or do I need to post them at every entrance?
Answer: You must have them posted at all entrances.
Question: Does a citizen have the right to ask a HL carrier for proof of licensing?
Answer: No. A citizen does not have the right to ask a HL carrier for proof that he or she is legally carrying a weapon.
Question: Since open carry is now legal, does that mean that I am no longer able to conceal my handgun?
Answer: The open carry law gives you the option to conceal your handgun or carry it out in the open.
Question: What advice would you give to someone who is feeling anxious or intimidated in an open carry environment?
Answer: Open carry is going to be something that everyone will have to get used to. Initially it will be weird to see someone carrying a handgun in the grocery store, but it is important to know that the people who are open carrying a gun are law abiding citizens and are not there to intimidate or hurt you.
Question: Some organizations that are in opposition to open carry, have said that if they see someone openly carrying a handgun, they will call 911 and say that person is being aggressive and threatening people with the weapon. How will the police handle situations like this.
Answer: The police will act with caution when approaching the person, they will collect the facts, and when it is found that this person was doing nothing wrong, the investigation will be turned towards the person who made the false 911 call."
We hope that this information will be helpful to our citizens.