With the open carry of handguns in Texas legal since January 1, 2016, Texas property owners, property managers, and tenants are faced with a new set of legal and ethical concerns and considerations.
Concealed Carry in Texas Has Been Legal Since 1995
In 1995, Texans became eligible to carry concealed handguns, which had previously been illegal. Texas established procedures for the issuance of a Concealed Handgun License (CHL) for applicants meeting specified state requirements. See Texas Gov’t Code §§ 411.172-411.174; 37 Tex. Admin. Code § 6.11. A handgun is defined by Texas law as “any firearm that is designed, made, or adapted to be fired with one hand.” Tex. Penal Code § 46.01(5); § 411.171(5). CHL holders have been restricted from carrying their concealed handguns in certain designated places, including: bars, schools, polling places, prisons, professional or interscholastic sporting events, hospitals, nursing homes, meetings of government bodies, racetracks, and amusement parks. Texas Penal Code § 46.03(a)–(c). (The 2015 Texas Legislature also passed open carry laws allowing for licensed handgun carry at Texas public colleges and universities. Texas “campus carry” laws will become effective on August 1, 2016 for four-year colleges and on August 1, 2017 for two-year colleges. See Tex. Gov’t Code § 411.2031; Tex. Penal Code § 46.03.)