The final version of House Bill 1927 Legislation, was formally signed by the Governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, and is due to come into effect on the 1st of September, 2021. The controversial bill was drafted in order to protect Texas residents’ gun rights as some groups were concerned that recent gun safety bills which had been put forward by lawmakers in the past few years, infringed on Texans’ right to bear arms. To discover how the bill will be implemented in the years to come as well as how the bill handles the legal rights of local business owners to refuse individuals service, simply continue reading.
The primary purpose of the bill was to give Texans the legal right to carry a handgun in non-prohibited public places, without having a license to carry. Prior to the implementation of the bill, only individuals who carry permits were allowed to carry their handguns in public. Regardless of whether their handguns were concealed or unconcealed. However, if individuals choose not to conceal their handguns, they are required to keep their guns in holsters and would not be permitted to carry a gun in their hand, in public.
It’s worth noting that to obtain a handgun permit prior to the implementation of house bill 1927, individuals would need to undergo at least four to six hours of gun training before passing a shooting proficiency test and a comprehensive written exam. As a direct result of the new bill, individuals who wish to carry a handgun, will no longer need to undergo gun training sessions or to pass practical or written exams.
However, in order to ensure that individuals who were interested in gun training would have adequate training opportunities to increase their knowledge of gun usage and safety, the senate required that the bill be amended to stipulate that the Texas Department of Public Safety would need to offer a free online course on the topic of handgun safety.
Under the new bill, only individuals aged 21 years or older are permitted to carry a handgun in public.
The Governor of Texas, Greg Abbott was outspoken about his views on the bill and was quoted as saying that Texas must be a Second Amendment sanctuary state. At the time key Republicans also backed Abbott’s stance and were firm on their belief that the federal government should not pass new gun control laws that would restrict Texans’ constitutional right to bear arms.
Abbott however, wasn’t the only influential politician to lend his support to the bill. Texas Senate Floor Representative, Matt Schaefer campaigned for the bill’s success by claiming that it would allow law-abiding Texas citizens to carry a small handgun for self-defense. Schaefer gave the example of a woman carrying a handgun in a dark carpark, in order to protect herself as a reason why the second amendment should be upheld.
Some of the key locations where individuals are prohibited from carrying handguns currently include schools, college campuses, courts, race tracks, hospitals, correctional facilities, nursing homes, and amusement parks. Firearms are also prohibited from high school, college, and professional sports events and bars. It’s worth noting that the state currently classifies any establishment which obtains 51% or more of its profit from the sale of alcoholic beverages as a bar. Lastly, civilians aren’t allowed to carry handguns past the security section of any airport in the state of Texas. Any individual who carries a handgun into prohibited locations and events will be subjected to harsh penalties. This is the state’s way of dissuading individuals from ignoring the stipulations of the bill.
While under the new bill, individuals may now freely carry handguns in public without a permit, under the bill, all private businesses still have the right to refuse entry to individuals carrying handguns under Penal Code Chapter 30.05. However, businesses that opt to prohibit their customers from carrying firearms on their premises must place a clearly visible sign stating their rules, at the entrance to their premises. Such as a 30.06 sign or a 30.07 sign.
If a business fails to put up visible signs about their gun regulations, any individuals who are caught carrying firearms onto their premises are unlikely to face fines and will be let off with a warning. As by law Texas businesses which wish to prohibit firearms, are responsible for ensuring that the proper signage is put in place. If a business does place adequate signage prohibiting firearms, any individual who is caught ignoring the signage may be hit with a Class C misdemeanor and a fine of $200.
Furthermore, while a $200 fine and a misdemeanor are the maximum penalties that individuals will face if they agree to vacate the premises as soon as possible just in case of an individual refuses to leave the premises straight away, they are liable for more serious penalties. For this reason, individuals who carry a firearm into a business on accident should agree to pay a $200 fine and to leave as soon as possible, to avoid further trouble.
Not all individuals will be able to carry a visible or concealed gun in publicly permitted locations as a result of the bill. For instance, individuals who have been charged with specific misdemeanors in the past five years such as assault which has caused injury, and disorderly conduct with a firearm are explicitly prohibited from carrying a handgun in public.
Such individuals are only permitted to carry a handgun in their home and car. In order to deter such individuals, who may pose a significant threat to the general public, from ignoring the restrictions imposed against them, any individual who is banned from carrying a handgun due to a recent demeanor will face serious penalties if they are caught by law enforcement.
The final bill also featured an amendment to the original house bill from the senate that significantly increased the criminal penalties which can be handed out to family violence offenders and felons with previous convictions who illegally carry handguns in public.
While under the new bill, individuals have the right to carry handguns in public, the bill ensured to protect the rights of law enforcement officers to disarm potentially dangerous individuals. However, under the provision a law enforcement officer must only disarm an individual carrying a handgun in legal public areas if they believe that their own safety or the safety of others is at risk. Officers are not allowed to disarm an individual, due to their physical appearance.
In order for a law enforcement officer to legally detain a suspicious individual, they must have sufficient evidence to detain the individual in question. Currently, an individual simply carrying a handgun in public, is not deemed a strong enough reason for a law enforcement officer to detain them.
In fact, one iteration of the house bill actually went a step further and had an amendment clause that stated that law enforcement officers could not detain a person for simply carrying a firearm. This amendment was named the Dutton Amendment, while it was omitted from the final version of the bill, current case law still says that law enforcement officers are barred from detaining individuals simply for simply carrying a handgun. So, from a legal standpoint, there was no reason for the Dutton Amendment to be included in the final iteration of house bill 1927.
The bill was highly controversial and had to go through several amendments and while the Governor and most Texan Republicans openly backed the bill, there were a large number of prominent Democrats and state lawmakers who were openly critical of the bill. A group of Democrats and lawmakers from El Paso, which suffered horrific massacres in 2019, quickly denounced the bill which they believed could lead to future massacres in the state of Texas.
A large proportion of the general public were also opposed to relaxing gun laws and in a poll which was jointly run by the University of Texas and the Texas Tribune, more than 50% of the survey’s respondents were opposed to the bill being passed. This shows that the State of Texas is still quite split when it comes to gun control laws. As there are proud gun owners who are passionate about their right to bear arms and to protect themselves and their family members as well as gun control lobbyists who believe that allowing a large number of individuals to bear arms, will result in a greater number of shootings each year.
While the bill was met with plenty of opposition and had to go through many changes before it was accepted and signed by the Governor of Texas Gregg Abbott, the bill will become law from the 1st of September, 2021. As a result, law-abiding Texas citizens over the age of 21, will be legally permitted to carry a handgun for personal protection in public, without a gun permit.
To learn more about how to organize a solid defense against criminal charges, contact our office today at (682) 204-4066. We offer services for clients throughout Texas, including Fort Worth, Dallas, Weatherford, Arlington, North Richland Hills, Grapevine, Flower Mound, Haltom City, Grand Prairie, South Lake, Keller, Aledo, Irving, Bedford & Euless.