Employer Compliance with Texas’ New Open-Carry Law

Texas House Bill No. 910, effective January 1, 2016, allows handgun license holders in Texas to carry a holstered handgun openly anywhere that a concealed handgun is permitted. Employers’ existing policies prohibiting guns on employer property are lawful under the new open carry law, and Texas law already requires private property owners that want to keep guns from their property to notify the public “orally or by written communication” that guns are prohibited. Although the notice aspect of the law has not changed, the precise wording of the notice to prohibit handguns has changed.

While the new statute allows property owners – or those with authority to act for the owner – to communicate the prohibition “orally” or in writing, the most effective form of communication to visitors will probably be the statutorily-prescribed signage. Beginning January 1, 2016, to prohibit the open carry of handguns, a sign must specifically state as follows:

“PURSUANT TO SECTION 30.07, PENAL CODE (TRESPASS BY LICENSE HOLDER WITH AN OPENLY CARRIED HANDGUN), A PERSON LICENSED UNDER SUBCHAPTER H, CHAPTER 411, GOVERNMENT CODE (HANDGUN LICENSING LAW), MAY NOT ENTER THIS PROPERTY WITH A HANDGUN THAT IS CARRIED OPENLY.”

“DE ACUERDO CON LA SECCIÓN 30.07 DEL CÓDIGO PENAL (INGRESO SIN AUTORIZACIÓN DE UN TITULAR DE UNA LICENCIA CON UNA PISTOLA A LA VISTA), UNA PERSONA CON LICENCIA SEGÚN EL SUBCAPÍTULO H, CAPÍTULO 411, CÓDIGO DEL GOBIERNO (LEY SOBRE LICENCIAS PARA PORTAR PISTOLAS), NO PUEDE INGRESAR A ESTA PROPIEDAD CON UNA PISTOLA A LA VISTA.”

A sign must display word for word the exact language above to convey proper notice. In addition, the notices must be contained on separate signs, in English and Spanish, in contrasting colors with block letters at least one inch in height, and displayed in a conspicuous manner clearly visible to the public. The State does not itself make these signs available; they must either be created by the property owner or purchased from a third party.

To the extent a property owner also wants to prohibit concealed carry of handguns, below is the additional signage requirement to do so. These signs must be posted in addition to the no-open-carry signs:

“PURSUANT TO SECTION 30.06, PENAL CODE (TRESPASS BY LICENSE HOLDER WITH A CONCEALED HANDGUN), A PERSON LICENSED UNDER SUBCHAPTER H, CHAPTER 411, GOVERNMENT CODE (HANDGUN LICENSING LAW), MAY NOT ENTER THIS PROPERTY WITH A CONCEALED HANDGUN.”

“DE ACUERDO CON LA SECCIÓN 30.06 DEL CÓDIGO PENAL (INGRESO SIN AUTORIZACIÓN DE UN TITULAR DE UNA LICENCIA CON UNA PISTOLA OCULTA), UNA PERSONA CON LICENCIA SEGÚN EL SUBCAPÍTULO H, CAPÍTULO 411, CÓDIGO DEL GOBIERNO (LEY SOBRE LICENCIAS PARA PORTAR PISTOLAS), NO PUEDE INGRESAR A ESTA PROPIEDAD CON UNA PISTOLA OCULTA.”

As with the open-carry signs, a concealed-carry sign must display word for word the exact language above to convey proper notice and follow the other rules noted above with respect to English and Spanish versions, contrasting colors, block letters, letter size, and conspicuous posting.

In addition to posting the signs, employers desiring to prohibit open and/or concealed carry of guns may want to develop a policy prohibiting the practice to put employees clearly on notice.

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