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What does Constitutional Carry mean for your business?

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Come September, the weather won’t be the only thing packing extra heat.

Texas’ Firearm Carry Act of 2021 goes into effect Sept. 1. Commonly referred to as “Constitutional Carry,” the new law expands gun rights in Texas and allows individuals to carry a handgun without a License to Carry.

The new law is based on the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and on Section 23, Article I of the Texas Constitution, which states: “Every citizen shall have the right to keep and bear arms in the lawful defense of himself or the State.” To carry a handgun, an individual must be at least 21 and free from certain criminal convictions (deadly conduct, terroristic threat, assault causing bodily injury, etc.) for five years.

Under Constitutional Carry, a handgun may be carried in a concealed manner, where no part of the weapon is visible, or carried openly in a holster.

Texas Penal Code 46.03 maintains a long list of places where handguns are prohibited, such as bars (places with 51% or more of their income from alcohol sales), amusement parks, schools, courts, hospitals, secured areas of airports, and professional sporting events.

If your business is not on the prohibited list, what does this mean? Not much; your rights are largely unaffected. Business and property owners already have the right to post signage prohibiting handguns on their premises.

To prohibit individuals with an LTC from carrying handguns on premises, businesses must post the exact signs provided by Texas Penal Code 30.06 and 30.07. The new law provides an optional sign (in Texas Penal Code 30.05) prohibiting the unlicensed carrying of firearms.

You may already have 30.06 and 30.07 signs posted to prohibit handguns. Now you should also post the new 30.05 sign, or simply a “no guns allowed” sign, to notify unlicensed individuals that they may not carry a handgun on your premises.

Note signage required for LTC holders is specific, but signage for unlicensed individuals is not, so any reasonably clear sign will do. If you are comfortable with LTC holders carrying a handgun but uncomfortable with unlicensed carrying, then a general “no guns allowed” sign is effective for the latter, but not the former.

Texas law protects the right to keep lawfully possessed firearms and ammunition in personal, locked vehicles. If you prohibit handguns on your premises, the prohibition can include company vehicles but does not apply to locked private vehicles in your parking areas.

“Constitutional Carry” doesn’t allow disruptive behavior and does not change the law regarding disorderly conduct.

Except in an emergency, lawful gun owners must keep their handgun concealed or in its holster. Brandishing (i.e. displaying a firearm in a public place in a frightening manner) remains illegal and can result in criminal charges.

There are many nuances in the law that affect gun owners, and unlicensed individuals should educate themselves and proceed with caution if taking advantage of “Constitutional Carry.”

Vianei Lopez Braun is a shareholder in Decker Jones P.C. She represents employers in a wide variety of business sectors and provides litigation and administrative agency defense, compliance assistance, and practical advice. She is a regular contributor to Fort Worth Inc.

This article was published in the fall 2021 issue of Fort Worth, Inc.

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