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Are You Ready For Open-Carry?

 - by Stephanie Osteen, Jackson Walker LLP

Texas has become the 45th state to allow licensed citizens to openly carry handguns in public.  (Texans can already openly carry long guns, such as rifles – with or without a license.)  HB 910, signed by Governor Greg Abbott on June 13, authorizes individuals with a Concealed Handgun License (CHL) to carry their handguns openly in a belt or shoulder holster in all locations that allow the licensed carrying of a concealed handgun.  The new law will go into effect on January 1, 2016. 

That means employers still have time to establish rules on if, when, and where handguns can be carried on their property.  Notice is the key.  Firearms can be legally prohibited in the workplace so long as employers provide specific, statutorily required notice.  This can be accomplished by publishing a written policy (such as in an employee handbook) that contains precisely the following language:

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.      

Employers desiring to prohibit the open carrying of handguns also can and should post signage that includes this exact language in English and Spanish.  To comply with the law, the signs must be in contrasting colors with block letters that are at least one inch tall.  The signs must be displayed in a clearly visible manner at each entrance to the property.

The new law did not change existing law which allows employees to keep firearms in locked vehicles in employer parking areas. 

Questions? Contact TAB's Michael Schneider or call (512) 322-9944.

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