All About the New Texas Open Carry Law

The New Texas Open Carry Law

On January 1, 2016 Texas House Bill 910 officially went into effect. This law legalizes the open carry of handguns throughout the state. Several other states have passed similar laws in recent years and Texas has now joined them as a state with legal open carry. While some gun owners are supportive of this new law, other Texas citizens remain opposed.
Despite the controversy surrounding this bill, it is now the law of the land. As with any law, House Bill 910 carries certain provisions regarding when, where and how firearms can be carried openly. In order to comply with the law, citizens who carry firearms openly need to make sure that they are not violating any rules.

What Is Open Carry?

Before the passage of the new open carry law, Texas already allowed open carry of certain types of firearms. Long guns, such as rifles and shotguns, could be carried openly in certain situations. Also, anyone with a Concealed Handgun License was allowed to carry a concealed handgun in certain public areas.
This new law is an extension of the rights of gun owners with a valid CHL. Under the new law, anyone with a valid CHL is now allowed to continue carrying a concealed handgun or carry the gun openly. CHL holders are not required to:
  • Undergo any additional training to carry openly
  • Obtain any new licensing or certification to carry openly
However, under the law CHL holders must:
  • Carry their gun in a hip or shoulder holster to carry openly
  • Maintain the status as a valid CHL holder to carry openly

Rules and Restrictions

CHL holders are not allowed to carry a concealed handgun in certain locations and the same restrictions apply to anyone who wishes to carry openly. In fact, gun owners who wish to carry openly must also face some additional restrictions. For example, it is not legal to carry a concealed handgun or to carry a gun openly in:
  • A polling place or voting location
  • Courtrooms
  • Sporting events
  • Certain establishments that serve alcohol
  • Secure areas, such as certain parts of airports
In August of 2016, the new law will allow CHL holders to carry concealed handguns on college campuses. However, open carry is not permitted in:
  • The grounds or premises of any public or private institution of higher learning
  • Any street, sidewalk, or parking area belonging to any public or private institution of higher learning

Controversy and Gun Bans

As with any controversial law, some people in the state of Texas do not like the idea of open carry. Some business owners object to the carrying of guns on the premises of their establishments. While some business owners chose to ban all guns, concealed or otherwise, on their property, some business owners are now creating new bans specifically on openly carried guns in their restaurants, barber shops and retail stores.
Some business owners are afraid the the presence of firearms may create dangerous situations or scare away customers. Others worry that firearms do not coincide with the image that they are trying to promote. However, other business owners welcome the open carry of firearms. Some business owners claim that open carry will make their businesses safer by deterring potential criminal activity.
Under the law, a business owner is allowed to prohibit the open carry of firearms on their premises. However, they must clearly post signs stating this fact. However, businesses that allow or even encourage the open carry of firearms are acting in accordance with the new law by permitting firearms on their premises.

Legal Concerns

Although open carry is now legal in Texas, it is not a free-for-all. Guns must be carried openly in plain sight while firmly secured in a shoulder or hip holster. Any person who carries their gun illegally or who engages in dangerous, reckless or suspicious behavior may be placed under arrest and charged with criminal activity.
The best way to learn more about the new open carry law in Texas is to consult with an experienced attorney. Attorneys may be able to provide gun owners with advice and insight on how to safely and legally exercise their rights under this new law.

Have you been charged with a crime related to carrying a firearm? As with any legal situation, it’s important to get a legal defense as quickly as possible. Attorney Matthew Sharp is experienced in these issues and can help you. Contact his office today at (713) 868-6100.