Vagaries in Texas Law: Open Carry

Not long ago, the Texas legislature voted to allow for open carry of firearms by licensed citizens. On its face, the law seems pretty cut and dry. Unfortunately, municipal governments across the state are seeking clarifications on exactly which public areas and buildings are able to be exempted from the new law.

In East Texas specifically, the cities of Longview, Kilgore, Hallsville, Gilmer, Gladewater, and White Oak are seeking a clarification from the state’s Attorney General, Ken Paxton, on whether or not the posting of signage in those cities courthouses will prohibit well-meaning armed citizens from carrying their firearms into previously protected premises.

The state law allows for 30.06 and 30.07 signs to be posted by certain public buildings and private businesses to prohibit the open carry of firearms on premises. This specifically allows for private business owners to deny entry to citizens who are, with a 30.06 sign, carrying a concealed weapon, and with a 30.07 sign, those that are open carrying their firearm, either handgun or long gun.

The problem for the municipalities, especially for the city of Longview, is that their courthouse is housed in the same building where their police department is located. Under state law, individuals are meant to be allowed to carry their firearms, even in a courthouse setting. Until there is a clarification from Ken Paxton’s office, Longview holds that the open or concealed carry of a firearm in the police department is illegal.

Despite a recent memo issued by Texas Governor Greg Abbott to Paxton’s office stating citizens could carry guns within the buildings but not within the courthouse, itself, Longview Assistant Police Chief, Anthony Boone, explained that the Governor’s opinion was appreciated but that, unfortunately, “…it has no legal bearing.”

“We will wait for the attorney general’s opinion, because it will be binding,” he said. “We hope this issue is clarified soon, because currently it is quite vague.”

Without clarification, the city council for Longview has instituted changes to the state law that bars carrying of weapons in courts, court offices, public meetings, and polling places on Election Day if the proper signage is posted in advance.

Other cities are expressing their concern with the implementation of the new law as well. Police Chief Terry Roach of the city of White Oak states that his town is also awaiting a clarification from Ken Paxton’s office on exactly which municipal properties must allow for the open and concealed carry of weapons by citizens.

“Our city hall is also our municipal court; we’re not certain how that is going to be settled,” he said. “But you still won’t be able to bring firearms into the secured area of the police station.”

City leaders in other area cities are citing the same claims, noting that there is a difference between carrying your weapon in shopping, dining, and other establishments and whether you should also be able to carry your weapon in civic public environments.

Hallsville Mayor Steve Eitelman, who himself holds a concealed handgun license, explains there are still certain locations where the only person who should be in possession of a firearm is a licensed peace officer. “…at places like a courtroom, the city jail, or a council meeting, it just seems like too much.”

Whichever side of the new Texas state law you are on, there are many issues that have to be addressed as the law is implemented. We in Texas are very determined in holding on to the rights that we are guaranteed. In light of the new law that will take effect in January, licensed gun owners need to know exactly where their rights are maintained and where their right to carry their weapon is disallowed.

As the Police Chief for the city of Kilgore, Todd Hunter, explained, ultimately, “…common sense must prevail. We [the police department] have to slow down on our end, but y’all need to do the same thing,” he explained.

If you are seeking clarification on when and where you can carry your licensed firearm after the new law takes effect, take just a moment to reach out to a reputable Texas-based law firm that can provide the necessary information for you to be a responsible citizen celebrating their 2nd amendment rights.

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