The Texas legislature recently passed several new gun-related laws designed to ease restrictions on firearms. These laws will have a significant effect on all Texans, especially the 1.2 million residents who are active holders of concealed handgun permits. Below is a summary of the new Texas laws that went into effect on September 1, 2019.
- Defense to Trespass Laws
In Texas, you can be charged with “trespass by license holder with a concealed handgun” if you are a handgun carrier and bring your handgun onto a property where handguns are prohibited. However, it is not difficult to miss posted signs that state that handguns are prohibited on the premises. The Texas Legislature recognized that mistakes can happen, and it passed House Bill 121, which gives handgun carriers a defense if they promptly leave the property after being verbally told by the property owner that handguns are forbidden on the premises.
- Guns in Apartments and Homes
Under House Bill 302 and Senate Bill 741, landlords and property owners’ associations can no longer prohibit tenants, owners, and their guests from possessing, carrying, and storing lawful firearms and ammunition in apartments and condominiums. Furthermore, they cannot prohibit individuals from transporting guns from their vehicles to their apartments and homes.
- Weapons in School Parking Lots
Under Texas law, handgun license holders were always allowed to store firearms out of sight in locked vehicles. However, some schools were putting additional regulations in place. House Bill 1143 makes it illegal for schools to make additional rules relating to the storage of firearms in a school parking lot. Texas handgun license holders are always allowed to store firearms and ammo out of sight in a locked, privately-owned vehicle in a school parking lot.
- Marshals at Schools
House Bill 1387 relaxed restrictions on the number of school marshals who can carry firearms in public and private schools in Texas. Prior to the passage of the bill, armed marshals were limited to one per 200 students or a building. Now, there is no cap. This change was prompted by a mass shooting on May 18, 2018, at a Santa Fe high school where eight students and two teachers were killed.
- Weapons During a Disaster
House Bill 1177 provides an exception to the rule that it is illegal to carry a handgun without a license to carry. In Texas, you can now carry a handgun without a license to carry while evacuating or reentering a state or federal disaster zone within 168 hours (7 days) after the area was declared a state of disaster.
- Firearms in Foster Homes
Foster parents have the right to possess and store lawfully permitted firearms and ammunition in the foster home per House Bill 2363. Proper storage must be followed in the foster home, including putting firearms and ammunition together in the same locked location.
- No State Law Modifications
Per House Bill 3231, Texas municipalities can no longer adopt zoning regulations that attempt to modify state law with the purpose of restricting the sale or transfer of firearms and ammunition at the local level. The State Attorney General can sue local municipalities that are in violation.
- Business Civil Liability Protections
Senate Bill 772 gives civil liability protections to Texas businesses that choose not to prohibit handguns, making them less vulnerable to lawsuits. Any evidence that the business did not forbid handguns is not admissible as evidence in civil lawsuits where the cause of action arose from an injury sustained on the property.
- Firearms in Places of Worship
A place of worship is now treated the same as any other privately-owned property for purposes of deciding whether a handgun license holder may carry on the premises, according to Senate Bill 535. Prior to the passage of this bill, it had been illegal to carry a firearm in a church, synagogue, or other established place of religious worship. Now, Texans with concealed carry permits can take handguns into places of worship unless there are posted signs prohibiting firearms on the premises. This legislation was passed in response to the mass shooting in November of 2017, where 27 people were killed at a Baptist church in Sutherland Springs.
Your Frisco Criminal Defense Attorney
Philip D. Ray is an experienced criminal defense attorney helping the residents of the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. If you were accused of a weapons offense, we encourage you to call our office today at (214) 845-7987 to schedule a consultation.