- Published on Tuesday, 13 August 2013 03:06
- Written by Christine
This was a very active session for the Texas Legistature. Did we get all the pro-gun protection we wanted? No. Not even close but there were some positive changes and some not so positive changes were defeated.
So what does all this mean for Texas CHL holders and Texas gun owners in general? The following are some of the new laws along with some of the interpretations as per Texas Law Shield and Texas Concealed Carry Association.
For new CHL applicants, SB 864 has changed how the class is taken. The length of the classroom instruction is reduced to a minimum of 4 hours, not including range time. New applicants will still have to take the class in person. This is a signifigant reduction from the 10 - 15 hours that was previously required. This goes into effect September 1, 2013.
For Renewal CHL Applicants, HB 48, to renew a CHL all you have to do is submit a renewal application on the internet, pay a fee, and sign an acknowledgement of an "information form" that describes state law regarding when a CHL holder can carry a concealed handgun and the use of deadly force. There is no longer a requirement to participate in a class, either online or in person, for renewals. There is also no longer a requirement of providing photos for renewals.
Does this mean you shouldn't take a class before or after your renewal? That depends on you. Most CHL instructors will still provide CHL classes because there will always be those that will need help decifering the legal speak of the CHL code. If in doubt take a class or call the state for clarification.
Veterans and police officers, HB 485 reduced the CHL fees required for veterans, members of the military, and peace officers, and HB 3370 provides for a process for obtaining CHL's by former reserve law enforcement officers. There has also been a change to the CHL card itself; when SB 164 becomes effective, veterans will receive a special designation on their CHL reflecting their status as a veteran.
Fingerprinting, HB 698, concerns finger printing. People in a county of 46,000 people or less, with no facility with the capability to process digital or electronic fingerprints in a 25-mile radius, will have different rules applied to them, to be established by the Texas DPS.
Request for Social Security Numbers, 1349, which isn't effective until January of 2014, Texas DPS shall not request, and applicants are not required to provide, social security numbers for the purpose of issuing a CHL. Further, Texas DPS may not request or require social security numbers during the renewal process.
Category of firearm carrying, HB 3142 does away with the "category" of firearm carrying. In other words, taking the test with a revolver or semi-automatic no longer matters, and whether you are licensed for semi-automatics or revolvers no longer dictates the type of firearm a CHL holder can carry. Effective immediately.
Hotel Gun Restriction Notification - HB 333, hotels will be required to tell its guests up-front of any restrictive firearms policies prior to booking the rooms. Furthermore, they must receive an affirmative acknowledgement of their firearm policy. In other words, they couldn't hide a TPC §30.06 notice in the second to last page of their impossible to find policy document without telling you about it.
Auctioning of seized weapons, HB 1421. This bill allows law enforcement agencies to sell seized weapons at public auctions. Only licensed firearms dealers are allowed to purchase these seized firearms at such an auction, and the proceeds of the sale would go directly to the law enforcement agency. This is a new law that will require close scrutiny; while the bill could be enforced in a just and fair manner, the temptation and motivation for abuse by agencies with low budgets is high.
I have mixed feelings about this law as the potential for abuse could be great and there is often too much motivation already to try to seize a weapon. We must remain vigilant gaurdians of this law.
Seizure of weapons by police officers from the mentally ill, SB 1189. If the officer has reason to believe and does believe that the person is mentally ill, and that because of the mental illness there is a substantial risk of harm unless the person is immediately restrained, then the officer may seize any firearm found in possession of that person.
Per Texas Law Shield -
"There is a very involved system regarding the receipt of the seizure, how to reclaim the firearm if you've been released or have received inpatient mental health care. Of note is the fact that, after you've been said to be released, the law enforcement agency will conduct background checks to verify that you may still lawfully possess your firearm."
Specific and appropriate training for School district employees, SB 1857 lets the DPS establish a process to enable qualified handgun instructors to obtain an additional certification to instruct the school safety course, and outlines the requirements for a school safety course. This course can be provided by qualified instructors to CHL holders that are employees of a school district or an open-enrollment charter school. Note that this doesn't affect the fact that CHL holders need written authorization to carry in educational institution buildings.
Campus Parking Lot Prohibition, SB 1907 makes it illegal for campuses to institute discipline policies against CHL holders having firearms in their vehicles in the parking lots or streets. Keep in mind, both before and after this bill, it was legal for a CHL holder to leave his firearm in the vehicle on a college campus; however, some campuses adopted rules that would allow them to take disciplinary action against students who brought firearms into these legal areas. Now, they have received explicit instructions to no longer try to side step the law by having stringent and restrictive policies on firearms in the vehicles of CHL holders. With all of this said, the statute does not provide a penalty for college campuses that violate the law, nor does it prescribe a remedy for those affected by campuses who ignore SB 1907.
Air Guns SB 1400 (Effective Immediately) The legislature has added a host of new provisions regarding air guns, which they define as any gun that discharges a pellet, BB, or paintball by means of compressed air, gas propellant, or spring.
The law states that municipalities may no longer adopt regulations concerning the transfer, private ownership, keeping, transportation, licensing, or registration of air guns. However, it grants the ability to regulate the discharge of air guns, the use of air guns in the case of riots or other insurrections, and the carrying of an air gun by a minor on public property, or private property without consent of the property owner. Counties may adopt regulations regarding the discharge of air guns on property 10 acres or less in the unincorporated area of the county in a subdivision.
Interestingly, a municipality may not regulate the carrying of an air gun by a CHL holder at public parks, public meetings of the municipality, county, or other governmental body, political rallies, or non-firearms related school, college, or professional athletic events. So, for frequent paintball players, it may be worthwhile to get a CHL!
Restoration of a Ward's Rights HB 2407 (Effective Jan. 1, 2014), SB 299 (Effective Sept. 1, 2013), HB 1862 (Effective Sept. 1, 2013) A ward in Texas is someone who is determined by the courts to be incapacitated, and will therefore require a guardian. A result of becoming a ward is that you lose the ability to purchase firearms. If a ward's capacity was completely restored, that is to say they are no longer incapacitated and a court has made or is making such a finding, HB 2407 establishes some guidelines regarding the re-establishment of their rights to purchase a firearm.
Failure to Conceal SB 299 The failure to conceal law has received some attention during the legislative session as well. The current phrase of "intentional failure to conceal" will be changed to "intentional display of the handgun" in plain view of another person in a public place based on SB 299. While it may seem a victory at first, the statute is unclear as to how this substantively changes the current law by failing to define what constitutes a "display" or "plain view of another person." Only time and the courts will show us how this change will affect our lives. On a positive note, SB 299 also reconciles the "display" of a handgun with the use of force statutes by stating that the justification for use of force, not just deadly force, would be a defense to this crime. The statute formerly limited justifiable failure to conceal to only those situations where the use of deadly force was justified.
While we may think many of these laws are a success we should always remember laws to not grant you rights they restrict your rights. It is only because they were so restrictive to start with that we believe the new laws are a success.
And a big thank you to Texas Law Shield who took the complex new laws and put the in plain English for us.
If you have not already been to the Texas Law Shield website and checked out how you can protect yourself from wrongful prosecution, in the case of ever having to use your gun, you really should. If you like what you see and decide to purchase use promo code GalsnGuns to get 2 free months. For about the price of 1 fast food meal a month you could give yourself a level of protection and piece of mind a big mac can not provide.