Texas Employers and The New Open Carry Law

There were recently two laws passed in the state of Texas which make it the 45th state in the United States to allow the open carry of firearms.texas-890550_1280.png

House Bill No. 910, which went into effect on January 1, 2016, allows licensed handgun owners to carry a handgun openly (holstered on the belt or shoulder) anywhere that a concealed handgun is permitted.  There are some exceptions including hospitals and nursing homes, sporting events, amusement parks, government buildings, and religious establishments such as churches and synagogues.

Senate Bill No. 11 allows handgun license holders to carry concealed handguns in university buildings. This law goes into effect on August 1, 2016 for public and private colleges, universities, and other institutions of higher learning and on August 1, 2017 for public community and junior colleges. Private universities are allowed, under the new law, to opt out and public universities have the right to create gun-free zones.

These new laws require Texas employers to take a look at their current policies on guns in the workplace. If your company has a policy prohibiting concealed weapons, you will need to decide whether or not you will allow handgun license holders to open carry while in the workplace and revise your policy accordingly.  The ban does not have to be all inclusive – you can choose to ban concealed guns but allow openly carried guns or vice versa.

For Texas companies who decide to prohibit guns on company property, there are strict notification requirements. Companies are required to notify of the ban on guns either orally or in writing. It is advised to do so in writing so that there is complete understanding. If done in writing, property owners must post signs clearly visible to the public, one to prohibit concealed handguns on the property and a second to prohibit openly carried handguns. Both notices must use the exact language below and must be on two separate signs. The signs must be in both English and Spanish, in contrasting colors, and with block letters at least one inch in height.

To prohibit concealed handguns, the following verbiage must be used:

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.

To prohibit open carry of handguns, the following language must be used:

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.

Although employers have the right to ban concealed and/or openly carried guns in the workplace, employees have had the right since 2011 to store their firearms in their privately owned vehicles parked in an employer provided parking area (such as a parking lot, parking garage, parking structure, etc). This right remains unchanged.

 

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