Effective today, September 1, 2021, HB 1927 (Constitutional Carry of firearms) goes into effect. Here are some things you need to know:
There is a big difference between a License to Carry Handgun (“LTC”) and the recently-passed “Constitutional Carry.” HB 1927 does not repeal the LTC law – you can still obtain a Texas LTC. You do not need to have an LTC to “Constitutionally Carry.” They are two separate things.
What's the difference?
A Texas LTC is honored by many other states, under “Reciprocity,” which allows you to carry a concealed handgun in the other state, as long as you follow that state’s laws. Not all states have a reciprocity agreement with Texas. You will find these agreements on the DPS website. It is a good idea to take them with you when you are traveling with a weapon. You should consider familiarizing yourself with the requirements of the states into which you will be traveling, because they frequently differ on matters such as “prohibited places,” informing an officer you possess a weapon in the event you are stopped, etc. You may find the following resources helpful in determining which states honor a Texas LTC, along with any conditions and requirements: USCCA, NRA-ILA and Guns To Carry. Ensley Benitez Law, PC is not affiliated with any of these sites, and cannot vouch for their accuracy. This data is provided for informational purposes only. Carrying any weapon comes with a lot of responsibility, and you should perform your own research, and/or consult with your attorney. Other advantages of an LTC are that it substitutes for a NICS check when you purchase a firearm; you can carry on college campuses (subject to restrictions); on Lower Colorado River Authority property; and in open meetings of governmental entities.
So what is Constitutional Carry?
“Constitutional Carry,” on the other hand is not a permit or license (it is not purely “Constitutional” either). It is simply a Texas law that allows a qualified person to carry a handgun openly (in a holster) or concealed, except in prohibited places.
Qualified persons are people over 21 with no felonies, who are not fugitives, illegal aliens, committed by courts for mental illness, domestic abusers, and not convicted in the past five years of misdemeanor bodily assault causing injury, deadly conduct, terroristic threat or disorderly conduct by display or discharge of a firearm. A qualified person can be a Texas resident or a citizen of one of those other states.
Are There Restrictions to Constitutional Carry?
Prohibited Places include any real property owned or controlled by another person who informs that you cannot bring a firearm onto / into their property. The owner can do this by posting statutorily-approved signs, or any other means. There are four such signs, each of which prohibits different activity so read them carefully when you see them, and consult with counsel. Other Prohibited Places include schools, polling places, courts or court offices, racetracks, secured areas of airports, bars, sporting events, correctional facilities, civil commitment facilities, hospitals, nursing homes, mental hospitals, amusement parks and governmental open meetings. Carrying on federal property is almost always restricted by federal law, and HB 1927 prohibits carrying a firearm in any public place while intoxicated.
Finally, keep in mind that a police officer can almost certainly stop, detain and temporarily disarm you for carrying, even if you are in compliance with HB 1927, as long as the officer states that this was necessary for safety, and was in performance of the officer’s lawful duties. At the end of such an encounter, the officer must return your handgun and release you if no infraction is found.
© Karen Ensley and Brian Benitez, Ensley Benitez Law, PC, 2021. All rights reserved. This article is provided for educational reasons exclusively and is not meant to be construed as legal advice. Ensley Benitez Law, PC, will represent you only after being retained and that agreement is made in writing.