Continuing this series on frequently asked questions regarding guns, this installment will discuss WHERE you can legally have a gun.
In Part 1, we discussed who can and who cannot buy firearms and who can and who cannot possess them.
I forgot to mention a resource that is available to you. It is called the CHL-16. This will actually sort of serve as a textbook throughout this series. The Texas Department of Public Safety publishes this handbook.
As you may know, our state legislature only meets every other year. When changes or additions are made into law, they take effect the following September 1st unless otherwise stated.
DPS has taken all the Government Code, Penal Code, Family Code, Labor Code, etc. pertaining to weapons and self -defense andculled it out of the mind-boggling mass of laws in this state. They have packed the relevant passages in one neat little .PDF file called the CHL-16.
Now, this last legislative sessions changes have not been incorporated into the CHL-16 yet…it takes a while. This is a reference book. That’s all it is. It is YOUR responsibility to know the laws that pertain to you. Ignorance of the law is NOT a defense to prosecution. Repeat that to yourself like a mantra…lol.
Anyway, now that we have the textbook available, I can say, “turn to page such and such…” lol (I may retrofit the previous post with page references to the CHL-16.)
Next Frequently asked question:
Can I take it with me in the car? I heard you can only go three counties away…
There are ALOT of these little things people have heard that they think are ‘laws’.
In the Part 1, I mentioned how prohibited persons play by different rules. Texas is ok with a felon having a gun five years after ‘final disposition’. This means if you do five years in prison, then ten years parole, your last required visit to the parole officer is ‘final disposition’. Five years after that last visit, (providing you have kept your nose clean) you may possess a firearm for self-defense. Turn to page 49 in your CHL-16. Texas PC§46.04(a) says that they are allowed to possess a firearm for personal defense at home…that’s it.
Everyone else that is not prohibited from possessing a firearm plays by the same rules unless they have a license to carry a gun issued by the state, with the few exceptions spelled out in PC§46.15 (pages 51-54 of your CHL-16.)
Handguns, knives and clubs
Page 45 has PC§46.02 Unlawful Carrying Weapons that explains that you may carry a handgun in your home, in your car or other vehicle (including watercraft) and directly in between. To be clear, PC§46.02 pertains to handguns, knives and clubs as defined in PC§46.01, not rifles or shotguns. The items are required to be hidden from view at all times.
So, you may carry a handgun any way you so choose at your home.
Once you leave your home, it has to be out of sight. Say you live in an apartment. You can carry your handgun from your apartment to your car either on your person or in a bag, case or other container. You may continue to carry the handgun on your person if you so choose while you are operating your motor vehicle, you just may not exit the car or other vehicle while carrying it on your person without a license to carry issued by the state. Illegal knives and clubs have the same restrictions as handguns.
To be clear, ‘illegal knives’ are not illegal to possess. They are illegal to carry with you places. And to snuff another rumor, switchblades, as defined in PC§46.01, are not an illegal knife as long as the blade is not more than five and a half inches long.
Offences in this area are a Class A misdemeanor unless the establishment has a liquor license issued by the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC). In this case it would be a third degree felony.
All other weapons
Page 46 has PC§46.03 Places Weapons Prohibited that states where weapons of any type are prohibited. This is differentiated from the above because the above weapons (handguns, illegal knives and clubs) have to be concealed. Rifles and shotguns can be carried in full view.
So, these guys that are carrying their rifles into Target are perfectly within the law to do so. The management of the establishment is perfectly within the law to ask you to leave too though.
It become Criminal Trespass (a Class A misdemeanor) if you are asked to leave and don’t. This is a Class B misdemeanor if you are unarmed but it becomes a Class A if you are armed with a deadly weapon.
Now, the rub carrying a long gun into the store being legal is that PC§46.03 (a)(8) (page 42 of the CHL-16) says you cannot ‘display a firearm or other deadly weapon in a public place in a manner calculated to alarm’. This is leaving things too much in the realm of someone’s opinion (for my liking) as to whether you were being threatening with the rifle or shotgun. And this carries with it a Class C misdemeanor charge.
Personally I don’t carry my rifle with me through the mall but I am fully in support of the right to do so. There are some folks out there, that the mere sight of a firearm is causes them stress. This is irrational but irrationality is very common nowadays. If these people are around while you are legally carrying a rifle, expect a little bit of harassment…sad but true.
I may continue in another post but until then…
Y’all stay safe a keep a round in the chamber…