As part of our state pride and identity, Texans have a special relationship with firearms. Many Texans use firearms for recreational purpose, such as hunting and gaming. Others use firearms for protection and self-defense.
According to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, 15, 977 firearms were traced to Texas in 2014. Of those 15, 977, 2,453 were directly traceable to the Dallas, Texas area. Approximately, 35% of Texans own a firearm.
On January 1, 2016 Texas became an “open carry” state. This means, all licensed handgun owners are permitted to carry the handgun in public and in open view unless the location is excluded by law and/or the business does not permit open carry.
Understanding the limits of this new open carry is important to prevent being charged with a firearm offense, including unlawful carrying of a weapon, possession of a prohibited weapon, or unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon.
Concealed Carry v. Open Carry
Before January 1, 2016 Texas was considered a “concealed carry” state. Under concealed carry, a licensed gun owner cannot carry the handgun in plain view or openly discernable by the ordinary observation of a reasonable person.
Under open carry, a licensed gun owner may openly carry the handgun in plain view. The firearm must be carried in a shoulder or belt holster.
Under both concealed carry and open carry, the gun owner or possessor must have a valid license to carry a handgun. In order to be issued a valid handgun license, the applicant must satisfy the following basic requirements:
- Be over the age of 21. (Members and former members of the armed forces must be at least 18 years of age);
- Have a clean criminal history, including military service and juvenile records;
- Not be under a protective order;
- Not be chemically dependent;
- Not be of unsound mind;
- Not be delinquent in financial obligations (i.e. paying of fines or child support);
- Undergo a background check; and
- Complete required training.
Licensed handgun owners do not have to apply for a new permit for open carry. The concealed carry license remains valid until the expiration date of the specific license.
Places in Tarrant County Open Carry is Not Permitted
Under the new law open carry is not permitted in the following places:
- Secured areas of the airport
- Polling places on any voting days
- Places of business with visible signage prohibiting handguns.
Most license gun owners are accustomed to handguns being prohibited in secured areas of the airport, courthouse, polling places, and schools; however, there has been some confusion, even outrage regarding private businesses having the right to refuse open carry on their premises.
The new law permits businesses the right to refuse open carry. The State of Texas provides designated signage to inform visitors open carry is prohibited. If a business is not displaying the appropriate signage, it is likely the business permits open carry. However, it is important to note that an employee of the business can request a patron does not open carry, even if the signage is not displayed.
According to the Dallas Observer, more than fifty restaurants in the Dallas-Fort Worth area have opted out or do not allow open carry, including the following:
- All Good Café
- Angry Dog
- Bird Café
- Cane Rosso
- Capitol Pub
- Dallas Grilled Cheese Company
- Dough Pizzeria
- LARK on the Park
- The Porch
National chains have also prohibited open carry, including the following:
- Whole Foods
Openly carrying a firearm in a prohibited place, including a private business that does not allow open carry and displays the appropriate signage, can result in criminal charges such as unlawful carrying of a weapon. Unlawful carrying of a weapon is a class a misdemeanor, punishable up to one year in a county jail and/or a fine of no more than $4,000.
The private business exception in the new open carry law can lead to criminal charges for licensed handgun owners. If you have any questions regarding whether open carry is permitted, it is important to consult an experienced firearm attorney about your rights.
If you are facing firearm charges, including unlawful carrying of a handgun, unlawful possession of a firearm, or unlawful carrying of weapons, contact an experienced firearms/weapons attorney immediately.
The Fort Worth firearms and weapons attorneys at Townsend, Gebhardt, and Eppes will mount an aggressive defense against firearm offenses committed under the new open carry law in Texas. As former prosecutors, the attorneys of Townsend, Gebhardt, and Eppes have the knowledge and skill to get these criminal charges significantly reduced or completely dismissed.
Townsend, Gebhardt, and Eppes diligently defends individuals facing firearms and weapons charges throughout Texas, including Parker County, Tarrant County, Johnson County, and many surrounding areas. Call 817-502-3600 or submit an online form today to take advantage of a completely free, confidential consultation.