How will Texas' New "Open Carry" Law Affect Business Owners?
House Bill 910, or “open carry”, was recently passed during Texas’ 84th legislative session. Effective January 1, 2016 HB910 permits individuals with a CHL (concealed handgun license) to either openly carry a handgun, or carry a concealed handgun on public property, and, on private property (with a few limited exceptions).
The new HB910 does not prevent business owners from prohibiting employees from bringing firearms, concealed or otherwise, onto the business premises. A simple written policy or statement in the company handbook is all that is necessary to restrict firearms at work. Keep in mind that this concealed / open carry restriction can only extend (legally) inside the workplace, or to company owned / leased vehicles but not to an employee’s personal parked vehicle. Employees still have a legal right to leave a firearm in their parked vehicle so long as it is properly secured within the vehicle.
But what about non-employees, such as visitors, customers, vendors, etc.? Prior to HB910, business owners could prohibit non-employees from carrying concealed handguns onto the business property by conspicuously posting a “30.06” sign. These 30.06 signs must be in both English and Spanish, be in 1” high block letters, and must be located in plain sight at the main entrances to the property. Individuals who ignored the 30.06 sign could be charged with a Class “A” misdemeanor for simply carrying a concealed handgun past the posted sign.
HB910 now requires that business owners wishing to prohibit concealed and open carry on their business property, post both a bilingual 30.06 sign as well as a bilingual 30.07 sign. Those who ignore either sign could be charged with a Class “C” misdemeanor, unless the business owner verbally asks the individual to leave and they fail to do so. Those who fail to leave after this verbal request can be charged with a Class “A” misdemeanor.