We recently had a question sent to us about whether a business could put up a 30.06 or 30.07 sign up at the entrance to a parking lot. The question was whether they could ban the entire parking lot from open or concealed carry. The answer is “yes” and “no.” Let me explain.
We’ll begin with Government Code Section 411, which is what governs who is “eligible” to carry a self-defense firearm. There are certain requirements and criteria for who can and cannot carry. There are also proficiency and training requirements prior to being issued a government permission slip to carry. This section deals specifically with licensing and does not address concealed carry in a vehicle. It is the predicate for most other laws dealing with self-defense carry and provides the means to do so.
In 2007, the 80th Legislature pass the Motorist Protection Act. This bill amended Penal Code Section 46.02. This is the section of Texas law that violates our state and federal constitutions and makes ALL carry illegal except for those given permission to break the law after being issued a license. However, there are two instances where the law doesn’t apply. Those are:
(1) on the person’s own premises or premises under the person’s control; or
(2) inside of or directly en route to a motor vehicle or watercraft that is owned by the person or under the person’s control.
Section 46.15 previously exempted someone who “is traveling” from the 46.02 ban, but the MPA clarified this because it was being enforced differently. What does “travel” consist of? Some departments were putting a minimum mileage requirement. Others said it applies to travel outside the county. Still others put time requirements on one way travel. Either way, current law states that anyone who lawfully possess a handgun can have that handgun in a vehicle without a license provided it is concealed. And, as of January 1, 2016, you can have an openly carried handgun in a vehicle provided it is in a “belt or shoulder holster” that is carried “on or about the person.”
Now that we have the law laid out, let’s get to the meat of the question. Can a business ban guns on their entire property. First the “no.” Labor Code Section 52.061, which was passed in 2011, specifically protects EMPLOYEES’ right to have a handgun in their vehicles if they are licensed.
A public or private employer may not prohibit an employee who holds a license to carry a handgun…who otherwise lawfully possesses a firearm, or who lawfully possesses ammunition from transporting or storing a firearm or ammunition the employee is authorized by law to possess in a locked, privately owned motor vehicle in a parking lot, parking garage, or other parking area the employer provides for employees.
However, it would seem that the law does not specifically protect all OTHER gun owners from having a gun in the parking lot of a business. This was made clear as mud during discussion on the bill in 2011 on whether it applied to everyone and the entire property. It seems as if the legislative intent was to include everyone, but the words didn’t. Here’s a little bit of that discussion:
REPRESENTATIVE BURNAM: This amendment simply addresses the concern that I was raising in my point of order. If you look at the definition in the Penal Code, which is the last section of the bill as filed, it is much more comprehensive than what the bill’s been represented. So, this amendment is intended to simply do what the bill analysis said it was going to do, which would allow what the author of the bill is trying to accomplish without allowing them to take guns on other parts of the grounds, of the campus, of the facility, of the business. Move its adoption.
REPRESENTATIVE KLEINSCHMIDT: Members, the statutory language used to define premises is in the Penal Code, it’s out there, it’s been used. To add another term or premises in the law today just doesn’t get us anywhere. It’s not practical. It just leads to more questions in the statute. Penal Code’s got a good definition.
BURNAM: On the Penal Code—it s defined, is that not correct, in the senate bill? Or it’s referred to.
KLEINSCHMIDT: —refers to the section of the Penal Code that defines premises.
BURNAM: Right, and in the Penal Code, the way they define premises is strictly the building—that s not applied to the grounds, the sidewalks, the picnic areas, or any other aspect of the facility. Is that correct?
KLEINSCHMIDT: I believe that s correct—does not include the parking lot.
BURNAM: So, I don t understand. All I ’ m trying to do is better define what you ’ say in your bill analysis you re trying to do, to make sure it does what you say in ’ your opening comments about the bill. All I m trying to do is define it to do what ’ you say it does. So, what s your objection? ’
KLEINSCHMIDT: I think the bill stays a lot cleaner if you don t add a new definition to the statutes.
BURNAM: Well, there s this misrepresentation that’s going on as to whether or ’ not we intend to open this up or actually do what you said you did, both in the subject line and the HRO report. We’re just talking about honesty in communication about what s going on. So, I’m just trying to get a clear definition.
KLEINSCHMIDT: Well, an amendment ought to clarify the statute. This doesn’t help, it simply adds an additional definition into the statutes.
BURNAM: So, what you are saying is, it is your intent in this legislation that it be restricted to parking lots, and not be able to carry guns around, and other various parts of the campus, of the business facility.
KLEINSCHMIDT: This is a parking lot bill. There is no intention for employees to be able to carry beyond their employer’s parking lot. It’ll let them carry in the parking lot. They can show up in their vehicle with it and have it in their locked vehicle in the parking lot.
So, SB 321 specifically protects employees, but what about the rest of us? The law says we don’t need a license to carry in a vehicle. What if a business puts up a 30.06 or 30.07 (or both) to prevent open or concealed carry at the entrance to the entire property. While the legislators were arguing intent for employees on what defines a “premises,” 30.06 uses another word: “property.” That is a much different word that is more encompassing. So, let’s look at 30.06/07.
If a private or public entity wanted to ban concealed carry – where allowable under law – all they need to do is put up a sign in accordance with Penal Code Section 30.06. It makes it an offense for a person who “carries a concealed handgun under the authority of Subchapter H, Chapter 411, Government Code, on property of another without effective consent” and if the license holder “received notice that entry on the property by a license holder with a concealed handgun was forbidden.” Notice consists of a “card or other document” (like a sign) on which is written specific language. Penal Code Section 30.07 is identical, except it applies to open carry. Entities that want to ban both must post both signs.
So, since GC 411 only applies to licensed carry of a firearm, PC Section 30.06 or 30.07 aren’t applicable to unlicensed concealed carry in a vehicle. The signs only apply to “license holders.” Keep in mind that this only applies in vehicles because it’s still “illegal” to carry a handgun outside your vehicle or property under your control without a license. This is why a 30.06 or 30.07 sign at the entrance to a parking lot does not prevent those without a license to carry from carrying concealed in a vehicle only. Once you step out of that vehicle, the signs apply if you have a license. If you don’t have a license, you’re breaking the law under PC 46.02.
Here’s the kicker and the area where we don’t feel comfortable making a definitive statement: if you have a license to carry, the law would at least appear to say that the sign DOES apply to you, while the sign would mean nothing to an unlicensed carrier in the vehicle. To understand how to think like a government official, remove your brain.
Hopefully this clears it up for everyone.
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Disclaimer: This post is not intended to be legal and is shared for informational purposes only.