A key issue in drafting open-carry legislation has been the need to preserve the protections found in Tex. Penal Code §30.06. This section of the Penal Code was created in 1997 as part of HB2909 and it has been providing much needed protection for Texas gun owners for eighteen years. It does so in part by requiring the use of specific wording on signs used by property owners wishing to prohibit Concealed Handgun Licensees (CHL) from entering their property with a self-defense handgun.
This requirement makes sure that a CHL does not inadvertently enter property where handguns are prohibited. It also provides property owners the ability to ban firearm possession by some persons, while allowing CHLs to enter with concealed self-defense handguns. This is a win-win situation that has worked well for almost two decades.
If an open-carry bill passes in 2015, both gun owners and property owners have a vested interest in preserving a property owner’s right to allow CHL’s to enter with concealed handguns while prohibiting people from openly carrying handguns on their property. Even people who would opt to carry a handgun openly should support this concept since they would have the option to conceal their otherwise visible handgun and enter a store that prohibits open-carry but allows concealed-carry. Again, this is a win-win-win situation for property owners, concealed carriers and open carriers.
The goal of retaining flexibility for property owners requires that Tex. Penal Code §30.06 remain applicable only to persons carrying a concealed handgun. Two bills that would provide CHLs the option to carry their handguns either openly or concealed (HB910 & SB346) safeguard the protections of §30.06 by creating an entirely new Section 30.07 that applies only to people openly carrying a handgun and leaving §30.06 applicable only to concealed-carry.
Unfortunately, a recently filed unlicensed open-carry bill would destroy the protections of Tex. Penal Code §30.06 by making it apply to both open and concealed carry. Why would someone strip a property owner of the flexibility to allow certain types of carrying handguns on their property and prohibit other methods? Business owners should be allowed to prohibit open-carry of handguns on their property to meet the demands of some customers, while allowing the carrying of concealed handguns. If such a bill were to pass, a property owner wishing to prohibit the open-carry of handguns on their property would be forced to ban concealed carry as well.
If any bill that repeals, waters down, or applies Tex. Penal Code §30.06 to both open and concealed carry gets to a committee hearing, then every Texas gun owner should strongly oppose that bill and let both their Senator and Lt. Governor Patrick know where they stand.