On January 1st, 2016 new laws go into effect that change the aspects of carrying a firearm in Texas. There will be some new signs to watch out for to go along with the change in laws. The most fun part is that the signs might also be mix and match. (An establishment may have up to three of the four signs, and may seem contradictory. No worries, I’ll get you all straightened out and I’ll let you know where and how you can carry your handgun. If you have a long gun these rules also apply to you just so you are aware. (Yes, the carry of long guns was impacted by the open carry legislation.)
The “No Guns” sign
The most obvious sign that we’ll start with is one that is completely meaningless in the state of Texas.
The “gun busters” sign in Texas means exactly nothing. If you are a concealed carrier you can walk past this sign without any fear of legal issues. Some concealed carriers see this as a sign that they are not welcome and refuse to do business with companies that sport this sign. The business may have put up this sign for various reasons. It may be something required by their insurance carriers (who are clueless as to it being meaningless) or to simply appease those people among us who would soil their undies if they knew how many people actually were carrying firearms around them. Since open carry passed, we might see more of these type of signs, but they are still just as pointless.
Concealed carriers in Texas are very familiar with this sign.
This sign means that you cannot legally carry concealed at this location. There are still rules about it though. It must be posted conspicuously at every major entrance to the location, and must be in one inch tall lettering. There is one place that my wife and go that only has this posted at certain entrances and it is in lettering that is about one quarter of an inch tall, and is buried among all kinds of other “rules” such as no skateboarding. Walking past one of these signs while carrying concealed will get you in trouble legally. With the new law change however, if a business only has this sign, you can legally open carry in this location.
I don’t have a picture of this one. It is one of the new requirements in Texas that specifically bans the open carry of a handgun in a business. It must be worded nearly identical to the 30.06 sign with the exception being that it specifies open carry instead of concealed carry. If a business has one of these signs, but no 30.06 sign, you can legally carry concealed, you just can’t open carry. In order for a business to prevent you from carrying at all in their location, they must have both a 30.06 and a 30.07 sign. We aren’t done with the signs yet though.
There are other signs that affect where you can carry and where you can’t. The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) requires certain businesses to post this sign. The business can’t really choose whether or not to display these signs. The first is the 51% sign.
If a business derives more than 51% of their profit from the sale of alcohol on the premises (such as a bar), then this sign will be posted. It is illegal to have any firearm in this establishment, whether open carried or concealed. You might also note that this sign specifically calls out “licensed or unlicensed.” In Texas we are allowed to open carry long guns, such as rifles, and there is no licensing requirement. If you carry here, concealed or not, you are breaking the law. I don’t personally agree with this, but that is what the current law is.
Liquor / Convenience store sign
This last sign doesn’t have an official nickname and is probably the one that causes the most confusion for concealed carriers.
This sign will be posted at any place that sells alcohol specifically to be consumed off of the premises. Grocery stores and gas stations sell beer, so this sign will be posted there, as well as at liquor stores. If you notice the wording of the sign, it specifically states “unlicensed.” You can carry here if you have a license to carry and you won’t be in trouble. (See previous statement about rifles.)
Let’s play Bingo!
Okay, now that we know all the signs, let’s play mix and match.
Q: If a business has posted a 30.06 and a 30.07 sign can you carry there legally?
A: Yes, but you can only carry a long gun, such as a rifle or a shotgun.
Q: In a business with no signs posted, if an employee says “you can’t have that in here” if they see your weapon are they correct?
A: Yes. This is a trick question. At the point that they tell you that you can’t, you have been verbally informed and you must leave. Failure to do so may result in a charge of criminal trespass. (This one might be problematic for some since there are no signs posted, but being verbally told of the policy is sufficient according to the law.)
Q: Can a business display both a liquor store sign, as well as a 30.06 and/or a 30.07 sign?
A: Yes. The liquor store license is a requirement of TABC. The business owner can additionally post the 30.06 and 30.07 signs since those are not regulated by the same agency. (This one will probably get the most people in trouble due to the potentially confusing nature of the wording of the signs.)
Q: Can a business display a 51% sign, as well as a 30.06 and/or a 30.07 sign?
A: Yes, but there’s no point. The 51% sign covers any situation that the 30.06 or 30.07 signs do.
Q: If a business has posted a liquor store sign and a 30.06 sign, can you carry there legally?
A: Yes, you can open carry a handgun as long as you have a license to do so.
So there you have it, a guide to how to play Texas Carry Bingo. There are going to be some new signs popping up around the area, which just add to the already confusing landscape of where you can and cannot carry. The examples section was not meant to be an exhaustive list, as there are a large number of variations you might encounter. None of the new open carry laws change some of the default restrictions that existed before. You still can’t carry at sporting events, on federal property, etc.
If you want clarification of where you can and cannot carry, taking a Texas carry class is probably the best place to learn. Even though there is no requirement for me to do so anymore, when it comes time to renew my license, I will probably take a class just to make sure I am up to date on what all the policies are.