Back to School: New Firearms Laws You Need to Know in Texas

 

Edwin Walker, Independent Program Attorney for Texas Law Shield:

Well, back-to-school time is almost here, so let’s talk a little bit about the relationship between schools and guns.

I’m Edwin Walker, Independent Program Attorney for Texas Law Shield. As of August 1st, 2017, it will become legal for LTC holders to take their concealed handguns onto the campuses and inside of the buildings of public junior colleges here in the state of Texas. This has been legal to do for universities since August 1st, 2016. This has now been extended to junior colleges.

This means that an LTC holder can carry their concealed handguns into previously prohibited areas at junior colleges, which include the buildings. Now a junior college may limit certain specific areas where a license holder would not be allowed to carry a concealed handgun, but those areas must be posted or the person’s given effective trespass notice under Texas Penal Code 30.06.

 

Back to School: No open carry on college campuses

It is very important to remember that any handgun carried anywhere on a campus by an LTC holder must be concealed. There is no open carry on college campuses. Also, it must be carried concealed in areas where carrying a handgun by an LTC holder is not prohibited. Those areas include parking lots, sidewalks, walkways, and streets. Remember, carrying on a college campus is a concealed-carry-only area.

It is legal for an LTC holder to have their handgun on the sidewalks, walkways, parking lots, and parking garages of a high school, middle school, or elementary school. Now, is it legal to have a firearm in your automobile while you are picking up or dropping off a child at a high school, middle school, or elementary school? This is a very interesting question because the law would seem to stay that it is, as parking lots are exempted from being premises under the law.

However, the law does contain a provision that a person is not allowed to bring a firearm onto the grounds of a school-sponsored activity. There have been some school districts across the state that have taken the position that the pick-up and drop-off of children is a school-sponsored activity that occurs on the grounds of the school. Therefore, possession of a firearm would be prohibited in these areas.

We disagree with this interpretation, but there have been several school districts that have put it into a written policy that this is their belief. Fortunately, we are unaware of anybody who has been arrested or prosecuted under this interpretation of the law. Hopefully, nobody will before the legislature has an opportunity to redress it.

 

School-sponsored activity that occurs outside of the area of a school

Independent Program Attorney Edwin Walker back to school
Independent Program Attorney Edwin Walker

Now, what about carrying at a school-sponsored activity that occurs outside of the area of a school? For example, let’s say that a license to carry holder is having dinner at a Dairy Queen. The high school basketball team just happens to show up for their after-game meal. Is this LTC holder now carrying at a school- sponsored event, and therefore would be prohibited? Well, the Texas Legislature in this past session had a bill filed that would clear up this area, and it would specify that a school-sponsored activity could only occur on property that is owned by the school, therefore exempting off-premises locations such as restaurants, parks, museums, etc. However, this bill did not pass.

So, does there continue to be a risk that an individual carries at a school-sponsored activity if they just happen to lawfully be somewhere and a school-sponsored activity happens upon them. In theory, this could happen. However, we have yet to see anybody arrested or prosecuted for this, and we continue to hope that it does not happen. Obviously, the defense would be that the individual did not intend to carry a school-sponsored activity. They just happened to be in a place where they were lawful to be, and the school-sponsored activity happened upon them. They did not intend to carry at the event.

One area where the Texas Legislature did provide some clarification is that as of September 1st, 2017, a school district or open enrollment charter school cannot have an employment policy that prohibits its employees who are LTC holders from keeping firearms or ammunition in their private motor vehicles that are parked on school parking lots. Now, keep in mind that the firearm does have to be concealed, it cannot be in plain view.

What this means is that while it has never been a criminal act for an employee of a school to have a handgun in their motor vehicle on a parking lot, it now cannot be considered to be a violation of employment rules or school policy.

So now a school district cannot discipline or fire an employee who is an LTC holder who lawfully keeps a handgun concealed in their motor vehicle on a school parking lot. This is a great win for school employees who previously had been prohibited under the threat of losing their job for lawfully carrying a handgun in their motor vehicle on a school parking lot.

To learn more, we invite Members and guests to attend special legislative update workshops presented by experienced attorneys as they discuss new laws regarding the carrying of firearms including changes to campus carry, the handgun licensing process and classes, and new laws regarding knives and explosive devices. To stay on the right side of the law, it is critical you stay current on all these changes. Don’t miss this opportunity. Click Gun Law Seminar to find events while seats are still available. The special seminars are labeled “Legislative Session Results in New Laws – Get the Update.”

 

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34 comments on “Back to School: New Firearms Laws You Need to Know in Texas

  • What about private universities in Texas? As an LTC holder, am I allowed to carry on campus?

  • James E. Parson says:

    I recently passed my LTC class & handgun qualification. Being new to this, what advice would you give someone as myself to avoid the pitfalls of possibly breaking a law which I knew nothing of – there is so much to know.

    thanks,
    James E. Parson

    • Texas and U.S. Law Shield Admin says:

      We offer Gun Law Seminars in which attorneys cover new legislation, use of force and use of deadly force, and many other situations. Go to GunLawSeminar.com to find an event near you.

  • Clifton Palmer McLendon says:

    I fail to see how anyone can be graduated from high school, receive a baccalaureate degree and a law degree, and be incapable of using the English language correctly.

    In his twelve-paragraph article, Mr. Walker commits ten pronoun-antecedent disagreements.

    • Brent Cooper says:

      Well that’s pretty simple to answer.

      #1. Going to college doesn’t make you an English major.
      #2. Going to law school doesn’t make you an English major.
      #3. Mr. Walker is not an English major.

      Any more snide remarks that you would like to make that have 0 to do with the topic at hand?

      • Clifton Palmer McLendon says:

        My comment was not a snide remark — it was a request for information.

        Mr. Walker chose to practice law in an English-speaking nation. His name implies that he was born and reared in an English-speaking nation, and he has to be at least twenty-one years of age to be a member of the Texas Bar, so my reasoning from the premises that English is his native language, and that he has had ample opportunity to learn to use it properly, is not overly far-fetched.

        If you have evidence that Mr. Walker’s first language is other than English, or that there is some reason that he is physically or mentally unable to use the language correctly, I ask to be instructed.

        Would you also accept all of the following statements?:
        1. The United States Declaration of Independence was signed in the year 1565.
        2. The capital of Texas is located in Borden County.
        3. The sum of two even integers is an odd integer.
        4. The boiling point of water at standard atmospheric pressure is 75 degrees Celsius.

  • The larger problem remains – what to do with their firearm when one happens upon some “restricted area” in the course of their daily activity? It would seem the burden of such storage should now fall on those setting the restriction, since the prevailing statute and law of the land stands in protection of the RIGHT of the People, not the hysterical concerns of the few. All these JC’s are NOT going have each and every “no guns” sign taken down from every door of every building in accordance with the law on the very first day, and those that are most likely to act are those with a REACTIONARY response; they’re going to maliciously put 30.06 signs up everywhere, and dare anybody to fight them over it.

    • I work as an Adjunct at two different Junior Colleges and they are required to provide written directives on where guns cannot be taken, most often it is in the counseling centers. Both colleges I work with have provided written notification to faculty, staff and students, as well as posting it on their websites. I agree, some may not take the proper steps to remove the signage around campus, but they are required to do so and provide in writing where it is not authorized. On the first day of this law the college had the maintenance personnel out removing the signs. Since the law took effect on Aug 1st and the next semester starts on Aug 28th, there should be no reason the schools could not comply with the law. This could be a defense if one was to be stopped. If I had a child that was starting college or going back myself, I would ask ahead of time for that institution to define their policy.

  • You guys are great! Thank you for this very helpful update. I continue to appreciate my membership in Texas Law Shield.

  • Thank you for your information. Will Texas Law Shield lobby to have educators who have an LTC to conceal their firearms on campus?

  • Roger Cowart says:

    Great news I love the updates on the laws that you guys put out…What about public events like carnivals , state fairs , rodeos or concerts held inside ? Casinos ?

  • Raymond Preston says:

    Regarding the section of the article “Now a junior college may limit certain specific areas where a license holder would not be allowed to carry a concealed handgun, but those areas must be posted or the person’s given effective trespass notice under Texas Penal Code 30.06.”

    is there a definition of these “certain specific areas”, or can the junior colleges just tag every building with 30.06?

    • U.S. & Texas LawShield Admin says:

      Hi Raymond. Thanks for your question! Please see the below response from one of our Independent Program Attorneys here in Texas.

      “According to Texas Government Code Section 411.2031, a campus president can “establish reasonable rules, regulations, or other provisions regarding the carrying of concealed handguns by license holders on the campus of the institution or on premises located on the campus of the institution.” The only restriction is that “The president . . . may not establish provisions that generally prohibit or have the effect of generally prohibiting license holders from carrying concealed handguns on the campus of the institution.” This means that if a person disagrees with the establishment of certain campus regulations, such as a ban on taking concealed handguns into classrooms, the remedy would be to send notice under Texas Penal Code Section 411.209 and file a complaint with the Texas Attorney General’s office.”

  • Edward Marty says:

    Maybe you have covered what “bring … to a school sponsored activity” means elsewhere. But the discussion leaves out a lot of other possibilities. First the legalese: did you “bring” it to the activity or was the activity brought to you? Now, can you carry on school but not if you get on the bus for a field trip or to a college stadium for a play-off game with students?

    • U.S. & Texas LawShield Admin says:

      Hi Edward. Thanks for your question! Please see the below response from one of our Independent Program Attorneys here in Texas.

      “The law allows an LTC holder to have a handgun on school property, but never in the buildings, and not while watching or participating in any school-sponsored athletic or interscholastic events, or at school-sponsored activities. The ambiguity in the law presents a great unanswered question about whether or not it is crime when a school-sponsored activity comes to you. For example, you are enjoying a local art museum (while carrying a handgun) and a school field trip shows up. There was a bill filed in the 2017 Texas Legislature that would have helped clear the issue by stating that a school-sponsored activity was only a prohibited location when it took place on school property, but that bill failed to pass. However, even this bill failed to define exactly what a school-sponsored activity is. This is especially troublesome because many schools consider the picking up and dropping off of students in a school parking lot to be a school-sponsored activity.
      With regard to a school activity being brought to you, in the event a person were charged with a crime under Texas Penal Code Section 46.03 for carrying on the grounds of a school-sponsored activity, the best defense is to show that it was not a voluntary act or that the person did not have the requisite mental state of intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly, to be guilty of the offense.”

  • I usually lock my firearm in car parked across street when at my boys high school (LTC). You bring a good point. My boys travel with team for out of town sport events overnight and i’ll either meet them there or follow bus. I always take firearm overnight out of town. I’ll lock in hotel room if i meet them in hotel, but what about going to dinner with them or driving from hotel to event. Is it ok to lock in car at event? What if i park across street from event? How about at restaurant? We can’t expect every LTC in restaurant to leave when teams show up. Could you please advise/comment? Thank You.

    • Texas and U.S. Law Shield Admin says:

      This is a very complicated issue, and one with a lot of grey area legally. Hence, the need for the proposed bill that did not become law. So long as you are not on the transport bus itself, you are fine to have the handgun in your vehicle. If it can be helped, I would advise against having members of the team (other than your own children) in your vehicle if you also are in possession of a handgun. Same goes for dining with the team at a restaurant. It is certainly possible that both of these activities are lawful, and not closely enough related to the underlying “school-sponsored activity,” to cause you any problem with carrying your handgun. That being said, we always like members to err on the side of caution, so we advise the safest legal route. Because there is no statute or case law that we know of to control this specific issue, it’s better to be safe than sorry. It is lawful to have your handgun in your locked vehicle at the school sponsored event, no need to park across the street. —Emily Taylor, Walker & Taylor

  • Marc Mulkey says:

    I don’t understand how, in anybody’s world, that if you are carrying in a public place and a “school activity” happens upon you, that you could ever be in danger of being arrested. Sounds like the legislature definitely needs to clear this up with a specific definition of what a school sponsored activity is and where that activity is contained to. Limiting that sponsored activity to school properties only should suffice.

    • R. D. Couch says:

      The bill filed by Senator Creighton during the last legislative session would have corrected the problem by restricting “school activity” to property owned and controlled by a school. The bill passed the Senate but stalled in the House Calendars Committee and failed to pass. Be assured there are places in the state where hostility to the 2nd Amendment runs deep among officialdom, namely, Travis County where the district attorney, county sheriff, and police chief are all on record as opposing licensed or any other form of civilian carry. Dallas County is almost as bad. Harris County has gravitated in that direction now that the new chief of police (recently hired from Austin and openly anti-Second Amendment) is in office.

  • Les Hansen says:

    off topic !!

    California, Oregon, Washington, and about a dozen other states have no reciprocity with Texas. i am planning a driving vacation through the above referenced states, culminating in a multi-day stay in Vancouver.

    Question # 1: is there ANY way that I can carry my handgun in my vehicle while traveling, even through these silly states?

    Question # 2: is there ANY way that I can carry my handgun IN MY VEHICLE while traveling IN CANADA (traveling east from Vancouver), to a point that I could turn south and enter the U.S.?

    Thanks for the input.

    Les

    • Texas and U.S. Law Shield Admin says:

      When traveling through a state that restricts the possession or carrying of firearms, federal law permits a driver to legally travel with a firearm by unloading it and locking it in the trunk. The firearm must not be accessible in the passenger cabin of the vehicle. This “safe passage” provision only applies when traveling through a restrictive state. You must be legally allowed to possess your firearm in destination state. The best advice is to take the most direct route through a restrictive state, stopping only when necessary for gas or food. Unfortunately, it is highly unlikely that you will be able to bring your firearm into Canada. Traveling to Canada with your firearm is considered a temporary export of your firearm. To transport your firearm across the border you will need to file an exportation form (EEI) with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection. This requires making a user profile through the CBP website. This form needs to be completed and filed before you travel. To return to the U.S. without paying a tax on import of your firearm, you will need to file CBP Form 4457 (link below). CBP recommends allowing a 2 or 3-hour delay at the border in cases of import/export of firearms. You will also need to file a non-resident firearm declaration (Form RCMP 5589 – link below) with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. In our experience, virtually no U.S. citizens are granted this permission by Canadian officials. Should you be granted this permission, be aware of the ammunition, caliber, and number of firearms restrictions under Canadian law. When traveling in Canada, you must comply with Canadian law. Information on laws regarding importation and transport of firearms in Canada can be found on the Royal Canadian Mounted Police website (link below). —Emily Taylor, Walker & Taylor

      U.S. CBP Form 4457 – https://www.cbp.gov/document/forms/form-4457-certificate-registration-personal-effects-taken-abroad
      Royal Canadian Mounted Police – http://www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/cfp-pcaf/fs-fd/visit-visite-eng.htm
      Canada Non-resident declaration – http://www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/cfp-pcaf/form-formulaire/pdfs/5589-eng.pdf

  • I am a bit surprised that the bill regarding school-sponsored activities off campus failed. That being said, I am also surprised that amendments to the bill that clarified that an off campus school sponsored activity does not include those patrons of a restaurant, park, and any other venue that are not associated with the specific school-sponsored activity.

    To your point, patrons of any venue that is offering services to both a school as well as to other citizens simultaneously in shared-use space, did not intend to participate in the school sponsored activity. This would be an unreasonable “encroaching” on the rights of others.

    Final point, I would assume, that as a member of Texas Law Shield, that should I ever find myself in such a situation and the unlikely event occurs (I am arrested – in a situation that I previously described), I would assume Texas Law Shield would defend me in court. Is this a correct understanding of how Texas Law Shield would address this situation?

    • U.S. & Texas LawShield Admin says:

      Hi James. Thanks for your question! Please see the below response from one of our Independent Program Attorneys here in Texas.

      “You have a very astute grasp on the situation. It is very unfortunate that the Texas Legislature failed to address this issue in the 2017 session. I know people are already working to make sure this issue is looked at again in 2019. Also, you are correct that in the event a person were charged with a crime under Texas Penal Code Section 46.03 for carrying on the grounds of a school-sponsored activity that the best defense is to show that it was not a voluntary act or that the person did not have the requisite mental state of intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly, to be guilty of the offense. If a Texas Law Shield member were to fall victim to such a situation, then they would be defended. Texas LawShield has already defended many members who were unjustly charged with a crime simply because they were in possession of a firearm.”

    • Texas and U.S. Law Shield Admin says:

      K-12 Charter schools must follow the same guidelines as other K-12 public, private, or parochial schools. Thus, an individual with a Texas License to Carry is legal under both federal and Texas law so long as they never enter into the school premises (the physical buildings/improvements on the property) while carrying a firearm. It is also legal to have your firearm in your vehicle on the school property or school parking lot. —Emily Taylor, Walker & Taylor

    • Texas and U.S. Law Shield Admin says:

      There is no criminal penalty for carrying your firearm into a day care facility. However, the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) governs child care licensing and prohibits firearms within a day care facility. You may face no criminal penalty for bringing a firearm into the day care, but the owner of the day care risks penalties, such as revocation of his or her license, by allowing firearms into the building. In other words, if you like your day care provider, don’t put the owner at risk by carrying into the building. Further, if a day care facility gives legal notice that firearms are prohibited under § 30.06 or § 30.07, carrying your firearm within those facilities will result a Class C misdemeanor for criminal trespass. —Kassidy Montgomery, Walker & Taylor

  • Jason Teague says:

    What about churches and state licensed preschools and daycares on church premises?

    • Texas and U.S. Law Shield Admin says:

      Preschools and daycares (whether inside of/affiliated with a church, or not) do not fall into the category of “school” for the purposes of prohibiting firearms on the premises. It is possible, however, that an overreaching prosecutor could try to make the argument that these qualify as an “educational institute” and as such are off-limits to firearms. If you wanted to assume the worst (that a prosecutor would try to make a case for “educational institute”), this is how we suggest you play it safe: If there is a building on the property that is used exclusively by the church and not used at all by the school, you could carry into such a building provided there are no posted 30.06 or 30.07 signs. And what if you want to carry into the portions that are utilized by the school? A person can receive written permission from the head authority of the school stating that they are allowed to carry on the property (Texas Penal Code 46.03(a)(1)). Such permission should be written, state the name of the individual it is being granted to and the address to which it will apply. —Ally Gutierrez, Walker & Taylor

  • Mike McManus says:

    I am so glad to be a member of Texas Law Sheild, thanks for keeping us informed of easy, err Not so easy laws to know when carring a hand gun. Just when I think I know the law, the State of Texas says Wait, it’s different in this case. Common sense isn’t a sure thing, is it? Keep up the good work!

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