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“Constitutional Carry” goes into effect in Texas Sept. 1

Posted by: tdt -

“Constitutional Carry” goes into effect in Texas Sept. 1

By Bill Kelly

While it has been possible for a long time to acquire a permit or license to carry a concealed handgun in Texas, a new law will go into effect tomorrow, September 1, that will allow Texans to carry handguns without a permit. That law, House Bill (HB) 1927, was passed by the Texas Legislature in the spring and signed into law by Governor Greg Abbott on June 16. It is referred to as "Constitutional Carry" because the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution doesn't mention permits/licenses as a requirement for the right to bear arms.

Under the new law, anyone who is 21 years of age or older and who is legally able to purchase and possess handguns under both federal and Texas law will be able to carry a handgun whether he or she has a permit or not. Those who are prohibited under federal law from buying or possessing a handgun includes, but is not limited to, the following:
• A person under the age of 21;
• Felons (anyone convicted in any court of a crime punishable by imprisonment for more than one year);
• Fugitives from justice;
• A person who is an unlawful user of or addicted to any controlled substance;
• Anyone adjudicated as a mental defective or involuntarily committed to a mental institution;
• Illegal aliens or those in the U.S. on a nonimmigrant visa and who do not meet an exception;
• Anyone dishonorably discharged from the U.S. Armed Forces;
• Those who have renounced their U.S. citizenship;
• A person who is subject to an explicit court order restraining them from harassing, stalking, or threatening an intimate partner or child of the intimate partner or engaging in other conduct that would place an intimate partner in reasonable fear of bodily injury to the partner or child; and
• A person convicted in any court of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence. Under Texas law, a person can't have been convicted within the last five years of certain misdemeanor crimes or they will be disqualified. Those misdemeanor crimes are: Assault Causing Bodily Injury, Deadly Conduct, Terroristic Threat, Disorderly Conduct – Discharge, or Disorderly Conduct – Display. Under HB 1927, a person with one of these convictions cannot carry without a license until five years have elapsed from the date of conviction.

HB 1927 applies to both open carry and concealed carry of handguns. Under Texas law, anyone who carries a handgun openly must carry it in a holster. So if the gun can be seen, it must be in a holster. If someone is concealing the handgun, a holster is not required. An example would be carrying a handgun in a purse or a bag (fanny pack) that is attached to a person's waist, or a handgun that is carried inside a coat pocket or under clothing, although anyone who carries a handgun under clothing without using a holster must be careful to make sure it doesn't accidentally become visible. This also goes for carrying a handgun in a vehicle, if it is in plain view it must be inside a holster.

Although licenses will no longer be required to carry a handgun, there are advantages to having a license, and they will still be available to those who undergo the required training and pay the required fees. A license holder can currently carry in 37 other states that honor a Texas license-to-carry (LTC.) 20 of those states also allow permitless carry, but the other 17 do not. An LTC also serves as an alternative to the background check requirements for purchasing a handgun for up to five years from the date it was issued, which makes buying a firearm easier and quicker.

While the new law does generally allow people to carry a handgun without a permit, it doesn't mean that people can carry a handgun in all businesses or other locations. There are a number of restrictions to where a handgun may be carried, and business owners do have the right to display a sign that restricts carrying as well.

With some exceptions, the following places are generally prohibited to a person carrying a handgun under the authority of HB 1927. The premises of:
• School or educational institution, a school or educational institution transportation vehicle, or grounds where a school-sponsored activity is taking place;
• Firearms cannot be carried in or on school premises unless it is done according to the school's written regulation or with written authorization from the institution.
• With several notable exceptions, federal law generally prohibits the possession of a firearm within 1,000 feet of a public, parochial, or private school.
• Polling place, including during early voting;
• More specifically, the building or portion of a building of a polling place on election day or during early voting. This distinction accounts for the fact that various buildings and non-prohibited places are used for elections.
• Court or office utilized by a court;
• Racetrack where pari-mutuel wagering takes place: horse or dog racing;
• In this context, "pari-mutuel wagering" means the form of wagering on the outcome of horse racing or greyhound racing in which persons who wager purchase tickets of various denominations on an animal or animals and all wagers for each race are pooled and held by the racetrack association for distribution of the total amount, less the deductions authorized by this subtitle, to holders of tickets on the winning animals.
• The secure area of an airport (e., inside the metal detectors);
• Firearms cannot be carried past airport security, whether on your person or in a bag. Firearms must travel as checked luggage according to TSA guidelines.
• Within 1,000 feet of a location designated by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice ("TDCJ") as a place of execution on the day a death sentence is to be imposed;
• Bar (e., 51% location);
• A business is considered a "bar" in Texas if 51% or more of its income from the sale or service of alcoholic beverages for on-premises consumption.
• Professional sporting event;
• Correctional facility;
• Civil commitment facility;
• Hospital or nursing home;
• Mental hospital;
• Amusement park; and
• Room or rooms of an open meeting of a governmental entity. This is not an exhaustive list, and anyone who plans to carry a handgun under the new law should make sure he or she knows exactly where carrying is allowed and where it is not allowed. This includes knowing the different signs that can be posted by businesses to prohibit carrying of firearms.

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