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Open Carry Texas Demands Apology from Speaker Bonnen

bonnenmcnutt
Temple, TX, April 22, 2019– Speaker of the Texas House Dennis Bonnen (R-Angleton) has been lying to his colleagues in the Legislature and to the citizens of the great State of Texas. His attacks on grassroots advocates and on the 2nd Amendment generally, have been well-documented since he was tapped as the leader of the lower chamber of the Texas Legislature.

On January 8, 2019, Speaker Bonnen was unanimously selected as the Speaker of the House. Immediately, we recognized the danger to 2nd Amendment legislation his election would bring and began questioning how it would affect the fate of Constitutional Carry. We were assured, however, by many Republicans that Speaker Bonnen would protect gun rights in Texas and that our fears were unfounded.

On January 23, 2019, Speaker Bonnen announced the committee chairs to head the more than 30 committees during this legislative session. Our fears were immediately legitimized as we began to process his selections to head key committees that would be responsible for passing (or killing) pro-gun legislation. The most important committee to hear bills related to firearms is generally the Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee, previously chaired by Chairman Phil King (R-Wise and Parker Counties). NRA “A-rated” Dennis Bonnen made the conscious decision to choose NRA “D-rated” Poncho Nevarez (D-Eagle Pass) to chair this important committee thereby giving credence to our concerns.

During the debates in the 84th Legislative Session on HB 910 – the open carry law – Rep. Nevarez sought to undermine state reciprocity by barring Texans from obtaining and carrying on non-resident licenses from reciprocal states. He voted against every amendment that would have made open carry better for law abiding gun owners and voted for every amendment that would have further limited the right to and manner of open carry, including an amendment that would have allowed cities with a population over 750,000 to create ordinances prohibiting the lawful open carry of handguns. Finally, Rep. Nevarez was one of only 42 legislators to vote against HB 910 during the 84th Legislature. Despite this absolute and blatant lack of support for the 2nd Amendment, Speaker Bonnen still tapped Rep. Nevarez to chair the HSPS Committee where he would be proven to kill meaningful gun rights legislation.

Gun owners were legitimately concerned with these appointments. In addition to promoting Rep. Nevarez to chairman, Speaker Bonnen selected eleven other anti-gun Democrats to chair important committees. He tapped NRA “F-rated” legislators Nicole Collier (D-Fort Worth) to the Criminal Jurisprudence Committee and Senfronia Thompson (D-Booth) to the Public Health Committee, two other committees that hear important gun rights related legislation. Naturally, these developments further confirmed our suspicions with the selection of Bonnen as the Speaker and we immediately began mobilizing our members and informing them about the dangers of his leadership.

On January 27, 2019, Speaker Bonnen shared a photo presumably at a gun range with his son on his Facebook page with a telling and insightful screed defending his “support” of the natural right to keep and bear arms. The very first line of his response says everything anyone needs to know about what he really thinks about supporters of constitutional carry and the 2nd Amendment. He bemoaned “gun rights fringe groups [that] have called my leadership into question.” He hailed his “A rating with the NRA” as proof that he has “been an advocate for Texan’s [sic] 2nd Amendment Rights.” Any suggestion to the contrary by gun rights activists was “asinine.” Oddly, he further claimed that he “placed a majority of members on committees of jurisdiction which reflect Texas’s long-standing pro-gun stance.” To add insult to injury, he belittled his critics by suggesting that “some fringe groups can’t count to 5 for a 9-member committee.” The problem that he ignores is that when the committee chair who determines which bills get a hearing is an anti-gun Democrat, it doesn’t matter if there are eight Republicans on the committee or five. The truth is that one need only have to count to ONE to recognize the reality that Speaker Bonnen tapped Chairman Nevarez to kill constitutional carry and serious gun rights legislation.

As he finished up his Facebook diatribe, Speaker Bonnen played the emotional plea for support by calling those of us that have been exposing his record as nothing more than “hateful and uneducated vitriol.” This is a premonition of things that were to come this legislative session. He concluded with a wager to his critics of “an AR-15 that their gun rights won’t be infringed” by the end of the 86th Legislature. He then said he would continue working with “tried-and-true gun rights organizations” to “actually strengthen the rights for those of us who are responsible gun owners.” We look forward to picking up our new rifles.

This Facebook post speaks volumes about what Speaker Bonnen thinks about law abiding Texans who are fed up with Texas leading from the rear on gun rights legislation. These same people are tired of the fact that Texas was the 45th state to legalize the open carry of firearms and remains one of only 14 states that requires a license to carry a firearm in any way. Under Speaker Bonnen’s leadership, Texas has grown closer to California, New York, and Illinois with our gun laws. Naturally, he believes that since the NRA is willing to suck up to bad politicians and provide cover for his bad policies and lack of action that everyone else is either “fringe” or not “tried-and-true.” In the Speaker’s world, if you don’t line his campaign coffers, you’re not worth his time and your rights are meaningless.

By mid-March, we were promised a fair hearing and vote for HB 357, the Constitutional Carry bill in the House, “within 2-3 weeks” by Chairman Nevarez himself. He scheduled a hearing on the bill for March 27th, the same day as the general appropriations bill debate on the House floor. Using that as an excuse, he postponed the hearing without giving another date. However, Speaker Bonnen concocted a plan to kill the bill by early April and found the excuse they were looking for with the help of Chairman Nevarez.

With Constitutional Carry legislation languishing in committee, Texas Gun Rights Executive Director Chris McNutt visited the districts of several key legislators to drop leaflets about the potential failure of the bill between March 25-27. On the 27th, the day that HB 357 should have received a hearing, he arrived in Speaker Bonnen’s district and began leaving leaflets on voters’ doors. The flyer being left on doors in the various districts – something no different than what Speaker Bonnen and his people do while begging for our votes with false promises every two years – simply notified voters that Speaker Bonnen was blocking HB 357 and asked them to call and push the Speaker to advance the legislation.

Speaker Bonnen was quick to formulate a plan to use this 1st Amendment-protected activity as the basis for full throated attack on the 2nd Amendment. He concocted a brilliant narrative and contacted local media to help push it, accusing Mr. McNutt of intimidation tactics. He initially claimed that the visit scared his wife and kids, who were allegedly home at the time. Later, he was forced to admit that his wife was not home, but changed the story to say that his son was home. Regardless, Speaker Bonnen spread the false narrative that Mr. McNutt went to his home with the intent to scare him into pushing constitutional carry. By April 5th, even national media had picked up on the story and Speaker Bonnen probably assumed he had successfully killed what he now publicly calls “bad policy” without taking the blame for doing so. Perhaps he thought he could get away with creating a magnificent story of “intimidation” and “fringe gun rights groups” to take the heat off of himself to kill a bill he didn’t support anyway.

On April 6, the Texas State Rifle Association (TSRA) sent out an email to its membership to provide cover for the disgraced Speaker. In the email, the TSRA claims that Mr. McNutt’s group, Texas Gun Rights, “and its out of state national group refuse to show their faces in Austin to actually participate in the legislative process.” The TSRA seems just as predisposed to lying to its members as Speaker Bonnen is to lying to his. However, nothing could be further from the truth. Mr. McNutt is frequently seen in the Texas Capitol working with legislators. They further called the act of sending mailings and leaflets to voters that highlight the misdeeds of supposedly pro-gun legislators as “ill-advised attacks…towards lawmakers with a history of supporting our rights.” In sharing this post on his Facebook page, Speaker Bonnen doubled down on his claims of being “incessantly harassed by fanatical gun rights activists who want to eradicate sensible gun policies.” This sounds more in line with something Michael Bloomberg would say than a pro-gun legislator and his water carriers in the TSRA. Not content with lying about the actions of Mr. McNutt, Speaker Bonnen chose to attack HB 357 as a bill that would “make it impossible for law enforcement to distinguish between law abiding gun owners and criminals,” even suggesting that the bill allowed criminals to carry without a license.

As if all of the above were not detrimental enough to the credibility of Speaker Bonnen, at a recent Texas GOP fundraiser, the Speaker confronted Mr. McNutt who was invited by a top donor who had purchased three VIP tables before the current manufactured controversy. According to attendees, Speaker Bonnen slapped Mr. McNutt on the back and proceeded to angrily dress him down in front of other guests. The situation was so tense that one of the guests attempted to de-escalate the situation who eventually urged the Speaker to leave after several attempts to reason with him. Speaker Bonnen was scheduled to speak at the event.

Over the weekend, the Texas Grassroots Gun Rights Coalition (made up of Texas Gun Rights, Lone Star Gun Rights, Open Carry Texas, Texas Firearms Freedom, and Veterans for the Preservation of Gun Rights) obtained and released the body cam footage from the March 27th “incident” outside Speaker Bonnen’s residence. This was obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request to the Texas Department of Public Safety. The footage completely exonerates and verifies TXGR Executive Director Chris McNutt’s accounts, and undoubtedly proves that the stories portrayed by the national media were an entirely fabricated lie.

This incident would never have made even local news if not for someone with a high amount of influence fabricating and distributing it to the media. Given the various other lies that Speaker Bonnen has told about this incident, and about Constitutional Carry in general since the beginning of session, it is our belief that the Speaker fabricated this story to fracture the grassroots and paint us as extremist. The Speaker said on the Chad Hasty Show that DPS informed him that Chris McNutt “flashed his gun” in an attempt to intimidate the staff at Rep. Burrows’ district office on March 25th, which lead to DPS protection being dispatched to the Speaker’s residence. This is one more lie, this time spoken over the airwaves of Lubbock. Not only was Chris McNutt not armed with a firearm or any other weapon during the three days he traveled to those districts (as he flew via Southwest Airlines to those locations and never checked any baggage), but when asked, a senior DPS official confirmed to LSGR’s Derek Wills that he had “no knowledge” of any incident or threat coming from Rep. Burrows’ district office that involved Chris McNutt, or any member of any grassroots gun rights organization.

Speaker Bonnen has consistently stated in the media that the place to talk to him is the Capitol, not at his home, however, members of each of these groups has tried multiple times to schedule a meeting with the Speaker only to be ignored. The Speaker has never made himself available to members of this coalition in any way despite repeated attempts.

Today, our coalition calls for Speaker Bonnen to do the following:
<ol>
Publicly admit that the events regarding Chris McNutt that he portrayed to the media were, in fact, untrue; and
Publicly apologize for spreading lies about Chris McNutt and grassroots organizations; and
Publicly apologize for assaulting Chris McNutt at the RPT Spring Fundraiser; and
Publicly admit that his statements regarding Constitutional Carry allowing criminals to legally carry handguns were false; and
Publicly call for the House to prioritize HB357 for immediate passage.</ol>

While these actions will not correct the wrong committed by the Speaker, nor will it change his opinion that Constitutional Carry is “bad policy,” taking responsibility for one’s actions is an important first step, and it is our hope that the truth will be just as widespread as the false reports.

<em>About the Texas Grassroots Gun Rights Coalition: The TGGRC is a coalition of grassroots, Texas-based gun rights organizations dedicated to bringing Texas back to its founding principles of respect for the Second Amendment. Combined, they represent nearly a half million Texas gun owners who are concerned about the destruction of gun rights and holding government officials accountable to expand liberty in the Lone Star State. It is comprised of Open Carry Texas, Lone Star Gun Rights, Texas Firearms Freedom, Texas Gun Rights, and Veterans for the Preservation of Gun Rights.</em>

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OCT ANNOUNCES ENDORSEMENT OF AG KEN PAXTON

PaxtonEndorsement

Temple, TX, September 4, 2018– Open Carry Texas is pleased to announce its endorsement of Attorney General Ken Paxton for re-election as Attorney General of Texas based upon his steadfast and unwavering support of Texans’ right to keep and bear arms in court and in public.

In particular, we are grateful for his actions in support of the rights of Texans under law to petition the government for redress of grievances, applying the law, and insisting that political subdivisions of the state adhere to the law with respect to improper exclusion of License to Carry holders from government facilities. AG Paxton has been a champion of the citizenry against unruly, corrupt, and incredulous local governments that have flaunted state law to infringe on our gun rights.

We congratulate Attorney General Paxton upon the occasion of his recent victory in the Texas Supreme Court affirming the right of citizens to petition the government without fear of a retaliatory or meritless lawsuit being filed against them for exercising their Constitutionally protected rights as happened in Waller County.

In thanks for his past actions and in anticipation of his continued advocacy of the rule of law, we gratefully and enthusiastically support Attorney General Paxton’s re-election and urge liberty loving Texans to join us in doing the same. There is no greater advocate for liberty and Article I, Section 23-protected rights than Ken. We look forward to continuing to work closely with his office to expand the rights of Texans to keep and bear arms and hold local government accountable to the same laws we must obey.

In liberty,
CJ Grisham, President
David Amad, Vice President
Richard Briscoe, Legislative Director

OCT STATEMENT ON JUDICIAL ACTIVISM

Judicial-ActivismTemple, TX, January 14, 2018– Open Carry Texas is an issues-based advocacy organization and, as such, does not endorse candidates for public office. It does advocate for the Second Amendment Rights of Texans and provides information, as appropriate, for the consideration of voters about the positions of candidates for office so that they may make informed decisions when casting their ballots.

It has been brought to the attention of Open Carry Texas that a candidate for the 322nd District Court position has, in a prior judicial capacity, engaged in judicial activism, issuing orders not requested by either party to the litigation and unsupported by evidence of record.

The specific case involved a Michael Keith Ives, a party to divorce proceedings in Judge James Munford’s Family Court. The court order, issued on the Court’s own initiative, without motion by either party or supporting evidence, prohibited Mr. Ives from possessing or using firearms. Mr. Ives is an avid hunter and the order had the effect of preventing him from participating in that activity. He was also prohibited from otherwise possessing firearms even though there was no evidence supporting a conclusion that Mr. Ives had in any way used or threatened the use of violence or firearms in any way against his spouse or children or would otherwise justify such an order. That order was overturned in subsequent judicial proceedings.

Judicial activism such as this has a substantial chilling effect upon the rights of other litigants and casts doubt on the impartiality of the judiciary. Open Carry Texas supports the rule of law and urges voters who share those concerns to carefully evaluate the record of candidates for office, not merely their claims, especially those which merely claim to support the Second Amendment.

It appears that Judge Munford has issued other unsolicited orders involving parents’ rights to discipline children as is permissible under state law.

Judge Munford’s opponent in the Republican Primary for the 322nd District Court Judgeship is Jennifer Moore, the attorney who represented Mr. Ives, and fought for his Second Amendment Rights. On her campaign website she pledges to render fair and consistent verdicts consistent with the law, exercise Judicial Restraint and Oppose Judicial Activism, respect and protect the First and Second Amendments.

Open Carry Texas submits these issues for consideration when deciding on a candidate for the 322nd District Court position.

About Open Carry Texas: Our purpose is to 1) educate all Texans about their right to carry in a safe manner; 2) to condition Texans to feel safe around law-abiding citizens that choose to carry them; 3) encourage our elected officials to pass constitutional carry legislation for all firearms; and 4) foster a cooperative relationship with local law enforcement in the furtherance of these goals with an eye towards preventing negative encounters.

OCT to Protest Illegal and Unconstitutional Pole Ordinance that Effectively Bans the Flying of Our State and National Flag

Temple, TX, April 4, 2017– Open Carry Texas (OCT) is dedicated to the preservation of the 2nd amendment protected right to keep and bear arms. We do not just believe in protecting gun rights, but the right to bear all arms.

Houston ordinance Section 28-33 (Carrying clubs, poles, etc., in demonstrations, picket lines, etc.) states that “No person shall carry or possess while participating in any demonstration, rally, picket line or public assembly, any stick, board, pole, stave, rod, plank, pipe, stud, cane, staff, slat, or similar object” unless it is ¼” thick and 2” thick if rectangular or ¾” inch at its thickest point if round. It also mandates that all such poles and staffs be made of “wood, wood products, or other cellulose materials.” This effectively bans most flagpoles.

Recently, several of our members have been ordered by Houston Police Officers to stop carrying their flags because the poles used to proudly fly them aloft and free violate this ordinance. These orders and the ordinance violate both the Texas and United States Flag Code. The United States Code, Chapter 36, which dictates the display and use of the American flag, is very specific that “the flag should never be carried flat or horizontally, but always aloft and free.” It is nearly impossible to fly a flag aloft without a staff. It goes on to say that it “should never be fastened, displayed, used, or stored in such a manner as to permit it to be easily torn, soiled, or damaged in any way.” Forcing citizens to carry a flag without its staff not only violates federal law, but exposes it to dangers of being easily torn or damaged. A carried flag, as ordered by HPD and the unconstitutional ordinance, does not allow the flag to be “aloft and free.” The Texas Flag Code is nearly identical.

The city claims that this ordinance is necessary because these flags can be used as weapons. We take extreme exception to this narrative; however, since the City is claiming these flags are weapons, we are protesting to defend our right to keep and bear arms while proudly flying our state and national flags. OCT carries flags at nearly every single one of our rallies around the state without issue and we take pride in our patriotism. Many of our members honorably served their nation in combat under these flags. This ordinance is a slap in the face to their service and sacrifice.

On April 7 at noon, OCT and like-minded patriots will rally at Houston Police Department Headquarters in open defiance of this illegal and unconstitutional ordinance. The purpose is to force the City to either recognize our right to fly our flags proudly on whatever staff we see fit or cite us for violating the code. The City will have to choose between enforcing a City ordinance or enforcing state and federal law. The two are not compatible.

OCT has retained legal council to fight this ordinance. If the City won’t do the right thing by repealing this ordinance or ordering its officers to cease enforcement, our courts will have to do it for them.

We implore the City to do the right thing and not risk wasting taxpayer money fighting over an ordinance that is being wrongly interpreted to exclude the flying of our flags. The City should instead focus its limited law enforcement resources on ordinances that actually affect the citizens of Houston and immediately cease imposing nanny state policies that micro-manage every aspect of our lives.

OCT is an organization dedicated to the safe and legal carry of firearms in the State of Texas in accordance with the United States and Texas Constitutions and applicable laws.

About Open Carry Texas: Our purpose is to 1) educate all Texans about their right to carry in a safe manner; 2) to condition Texans to feel safe around law-abiding citizens that choose to carry them; 3) encourage our elected officials to pass constitutional carry legislation for all firearms; and 4) foster a cooperative relationship with local law enforcement in the furtherance of these goals with an eye towards preventing negative encounters.

For more information, contact CJ Grisham at cj@opencarrytexas.org 254-383-8238.

Open Carry Texas Announces Committee Substitute for HB 375

Open Carry Texas has been dedicated to unlicensed, constitutional carry since our founding. Last session, OCT was instrumental in helping to get HB 195 filed, which was nearly identical to the current HB 375 constitutional carry bill. However, HB 375 had some holes and omissions that needed to be fixed, so we worked closely with Representative Jonathan Stickland, Representative Matt Rinaldi, Lonestar Gun Rights, National Association of Gun Rights, and Texas Firearms Freedom to improve the bill. HB 375 will allow anyone not prohibited from owning a firearm to carry that firearm without a license. Currently 13 states have entrusted their citizens to carry a handgun openly or concealed without a license and another 20 states allow unlicensed open carry of a handgun. Texas is one of only 17 states that requires law abiding citizens to obtain a license to carry a handgun in public.

In an effort to provide full disclosure and transparency to our efforts in the legislature, we are ready to publicly release the final version of our committee substitute which we believe makes HB 375 the strongest and most comprehensive constitutional carry bill filed this session.  The committee substitute is available to the public here: 2017 HB 375 Committee Substitute (v1 BWP) (1).

HB 375 is currently scheduled for a hearing in the Homeland Security and Public Safety on March 28, 2017 and we encourage all supporters to arrive early to register for the bill and/or testify.

The Battle of the Lege

By: CJ Grisham, President, Open Carry Texas
I want to urge caution and issue some advice to those willing to listen and understand the fight for constitutional carry. The bottom line is that we want the abolition of all gun laws that are unconstitutional (which is nearly all of them). My intent with writing the previous comparison post was not to attack any bill, but simply to provide a comparison for those who were asking what the difference was between the two and then give my opinion about which one I think is better. In the end, they both further our interests. Now, a reality check:
 
Anyone that whines and complains because the two bills filed are not “real constitutional carry” have absolutely zero understanding of the legislative process and political climate. There are 181 people in the Texas legislature. Of those, 66 are democrats who we’ll get absolutely zero support from. Of the remaining 115 republicans, there are probably a dozen or more that are really democrats in liberal areas, but can’t win on the democrat ticket due to straight ticket voting so they run as republicans. Then, you have the squishy republicans who are big government republicans and not liberty republicans. The number of legislators that are pure constitutionalists in the Texas legislature is probably only in the 20s or 30s at best. Those are the people that support limited government, states’ rights, nullify all federal gun control laws within the state, abolish all gun free zones and limitations to carry, protection from illegal search and seizure, etc.
 
With all that said, think really hard about the likelihood of a pure constitutional carry bill getting passed. Both Stickland and White understand that, which is why neither bill can necessarily be considered “constitutional carry.” So, let’s just call them both what they are – “unlicensed carry” bills.
 
The fact is that whether we like it or not, the kinds of laws that get passed or repealed are entirely dependent on the people we send to Austin. You and I can’t go into a committee and say, “here’s my constitutional carry bill. Let’s have a hearing.” It doesn’t work that way. Richard Briscoe and I (and Terry Holcomb Sr. of Texas Carry) have been beating the hallways looking for support for unlicensed carry. If you think this is a walk in the park try it. Hell, just try talking to your own legislator and see how hard it is to get a commitment from them. The FACT is that both unlicensed carry bills are going to be an uphill battle. Our politicians do NOT want to give up their control and tax money. It isn’t that they support the idea of unlicensed, but they also support milking tax payers for all they can. Unfortunately, the latter usually carrying more weight.
 
So, knowing that they already don’t want to give up control even considering the bills filed, what good does it do to whine, moan, and complain that they aren’t truly “constitutional” carry bills? If we walk out of this capitol in June with unlicensed carry, IT WILL BE HUGE – no matter which bill made it happen. I’m going to push HB 375, but I’m not going to attack HB 1911. I personally have my reservations about both because I’m a constitutionalist, but I also have a rational understanding of the political landscape and what is actually possible.
 
I’m not saying we give up fighting at all. That’s why we are working on amendments to whichever bill gets a hearing (hopefully both). And if each bill gets a hearing, I’m going to testify in favor of both of them. I won’t say that x bill is better than y bill; I’m simply going to say that x bill is great at the x bill hearing and y bill is great at the y bill hearing. Attacking the “other” bill only give politicians and opponents a reason to oppose both. I’ve made clear which one I prefer, but both are MUCH better than what we have now.
 
There is LOT to fix in regards to Texas gun laws. We have had over 140 years of infringements that must be undone. Open Carry Texas and the grassroots movement has only been around for a little less than 4 years. Deep sea divers are always eager to ascend back to civilization, but if they do so too quickly it can be deadly. The nitrogen in the body can’t handle that drastic of a change in pressure in a short amount of time. The legislative body and the general body of the public isn’t much different – whether we like it or not.
 
So, as you’re contacting your representatives to support one of the two unlicensed carry bills, ignore whichever is the other one. Don’t even bring it up. Just tell them to sign on to the bill you support. There’s no need to attack one bill over the other because then those issues can be used against whichever one starts moving – if any. I’m not happy that there are “competing” bills, but it is what it is. We can chop off our nose to spite our face or we can push for more terrain. I will tell you that when 1911 gets a hearing, I’m going to go in there and enthusiastically endorse it. I’m also going to enthusiastically support 375 when it gets a hearing. 
 
In every war, the goal is complete annihilation of the enemy – in this case, unconstitutional gun laws. However, very few wars are won the moment they begin. Terrain is won and lost, but as long as you’re always further ahead than when you started, you’re still winning. I will continue to fight the war, but I also recognize that victory may consist of many battles. As long as we are the ones moving the front line deeper into enemy territory, we have to understand that it isn’t a loss just because the enemy still exists to fight.

Attorney General Releases Opinion on Government Property Leased By Non-Profit Entity

Summary: as long as a Non-Profit entity is not contracted to perform a government function, the government entity is not the decision maker over the building, or there is not another government entity inside the building, a Non-Profit that is exclusively leasing government property MAY post notice under 30.06 or 30.07. Here is the text of the decision in response to Erath County Judge Lisa Pence:

 

Dear Ms. Pence:

You explain that in your county “at least two non-profit agencies … have offices located on land owned” by a city. You further explain that those agencies are the only entities located on the specific properties in question, that no governmental offices are located on the properties, and that the city “has no authority as to the operation of the non-profit and all decisions are made by an independent board of directors.”

Given these facts you ask whether handguns may be prohibited by a nonprofit entity when the entity’s offices are located on property owned by a city or governmental entity. You base your questions on section 411.209 of the Government Code and sections 30.06 and 30.07 of the Penal Code, and we will address each of these provisions in tum.

The Eighty-fourth Legislature enacted section 411.209 of the Government Code, which prohibits state agencies and political subdivisions from providing notice that a licensed handgun carrier is prohibited from entry to a location other than those articulated in the Penal Code:

A state agency or a political subdivision of the state may not provide notice by a communication described by Section 30.06, Penal Code, or by any sign expressly· referring to that law or to a concealed handgun license, that a license holder carrying a handgun under the authority of this subchapter is prohibited from entering or remaining
on a premises or other place owned or leased by the governmental entity unless license holders are prohibited from carrying a handgun on the premises or other place by Section 46.03 or 46.035, Penal Code.

TEX. Gov’T CODE§ 411.209(a). A state agency or political subdivision found in violation of this provision is ‘liable for a civil penalty administered by the attorney general. Id. § 41 l .209(b )-(h).
Relevant to your request, the prohibition in subsection 41 l.209(a) applies only to “a state agency or political subdivision of the state.” Id. § 41 l.209(a). Section 411.209 does not address whether a private entity, including an independent nonprofit entity, may provide notice to license holders that the carrying of handguns is prohibited in its offices. If a private entity is operating jointly with a governmental entity or has been hired by the governmental entity to perform certain governmental functions, fact questions could arise about which entity effectively posted a notice prohibiting the carrying of guns. However, under the facts you describe, the private, nonprofit
entity appears to have an arms-length agreement to lease city property and is not otherwise affiliated with the city. See Request Letter at 1. “As a general rule, a lessor relinquishes possession
or occupancy of the premises to the lessee.” Levesque v. Wilkens, 57 S.W.3d 499, 504 (Tex. App.-Houston [14th Dist.] 2001, no pet.). In such circumstances, section 411.209 does not apply to a city that leases property to a nonprofit entity that provides notice that a license holder carrying a handgun is prohibited from entry. As long as the state agency or political subdivision leasing the property to the nonprofit entity has no control over the decision to post such notice, the state agency or political subdivision lessor would not be the entity responsible for the posting and would
therefore not be subject to a civil penalty under section 411.209. See TEX. Gov’T CODE § 41 l.209(a).
Whether sections 30.06 and 30.07 of the Penal Code make it an offense for a person carrying a handgun to enter property leased by a nonprofit entity from a state agency or political
subdivision is a separate question. See Request Letter at 1. Subsections 30.06(a) and 30.07(a) make it an offense for a license holder to carry a handgun, either concealed or openly, “on property of another without effective consent,” when the license holder “received notice that entry on the property by a license holder … was forbidden.” TEX. PENAL CODE §§ 30.06(a), .07(a). Subsections 30.06(e) and 30.07(e) create exceptions to the application of those sections if “the property on which the license holder … carries a handgun is owned or leased by a governmental entity and is not a premises or other place on which the license holder is prohibited from carrying the handgun under Section 46.03 or 46.035.” Id.§ 30.06(e); see id.§ 30.07(e). We must therefore determine whether these exceptions to the offenses apply to property that is owned by a governmental entity but leased to a private, nonprofit organization.

When the Legislature enacted subsection 30.06(e), its stated focus was on local
governmental entities that were prohibiting concealed handguns from public places. See House Research Org., Bill Analysis, Tex. S.B. 501, 78th Leg., R.S. (May 9, 2003) at 4 (“A city’s ban on
concealed handguns in public buildings could make it needlessly difficult for a person lawfully carrying a concealed handgun to perform necessary tasks such as paying a utility bill or renewing
a car registration.”). Nothing in the text of the statute itself nor in the legislative history suggests that the Legislature considered whether private entities that leased property from a governmental
entity were required to allow the carrying of handguns on the property that they lease. The fact that the Legislature created a civil penalty in section 411.209 of the Government Code only for state agencies and political subdivisions provides some contextual support for the idea that the Legislature may not have intended to require private lessees of governmental property to allow handguns on that property. See TEX. Gov’T CODE§ 41 l.209(a).

Nevertheless, when construing statutes, courts recognize that the words the Legislature chooses are “the surest guide to legislative intent.” Fitzgerald v. Advanced Spine Fixation Sys., Inc., 996 S.W.2d 864, 866 (Tex. 1999). When possible, courts will discern legislative intent from the plain meaning of the words chosen, and only when words are ambiguous will courts “resort to rules of construction or extrinsic aids.” Entergy Gulf States, Inc., 282 S.W.3d 433, 437 (Tex. 2009). The plain language of subsections 30.06(e) and 30.07(e) make an exception ifthe property on which the license holder carries a gun “is owned or leased by a governmental entity.” TEX.
PENAL CODE§§ 30.06(e), .07(e). These statutes make no exception to that exception for property owned by a governmental entity but leased to a private entity, and to conclude that carrying a handgun on such property is prohibited would therefore require reading language into the statute beyond what the Legislature included. See Entergy Gulf States, Inc., 282 S.W.3d at 443 (noting that courts “refrain from rewriting text that lawmakers chose”). Thus, a court would likely conclude that a license holder carrying a handgun on property that is not a premises or other place from which the license holder is prohibited from carrying under sections 46.03 or 46.035 of the Penal Code and that is owned by a governmental entity but leased to a private entity is excepted
from the offenses in 30.06(a) and 30.07(a)