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Butts discusses ‘Open Carry 101’

By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor

Pictured: Bandera County Sheriff Daniel “Dan” Butts

On Jan. 1, Texas joined 44 other states that allow open carry of handguns – with or without a license.
During the January meeting of the Ranchers & Landowners Association of Texas, Bandera County Sheriff Daniel “Dan” Butts offered some insight regarding the Texas Open Carry Law that had gone into effect Jan. 1.
HB 910, which Governor Gregg Abbott signed into law on June 13, 2015, essentially allows anyone with a conceal carry permit to now carry openly. A caveat is that visible handguns must be secured in a shoulder or belt holster. “One repercussion from the law is that it didn’t make it clear if the holsters have to be secured to a belt,” Butts said. “However, if you don’t want to be a part of case law, that’s how you should do it.”
Law enforcement administrators with the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) have renamed the CHL (conceal handgun license) to “License to Carry” or LTC, Butts said. Additionally, other than the name change, no CHL holders will be required to obtain a new license. Nor is further training, additional fees or more paperwork required.
Butts also noted that an amendment to the bill, which would have enabled officers to ascertain if an individual carrying openly is licensed to do so, was defeated. “An officer must have a ‘reasonable suspicion’ to stop an individual and ask to see the permit. Even so, it will probably go to court,” Butts said.
Additionally, at this time, the new open carry law allows license holders to have handguns visible in vehicles – as long as they secured in a shoulder or belt holster, Butts said. He added that the law now in effect did not specify whether the holster must be on the body of the license carrier. “It’s not clear whether putting a holstered handgun in the passenger seat or dashboard will be considered a criminal offense,” Butts said.
He then delved into where handguns cannot be carried ¬– openly or otherwise. Private property owners who wish to prohibit open carry must comply with Texas Penal Code 30.07. Although nearly identical to Texas Penal Code 30.06, 30.07 applies to visible handguns rather than ones that are concealed. A posted sign must be identical to 30.06, except in its referral to 30.07 and the words: “handgun that is openly carried.”
Butts said that individuals and businesses that wish to exclude individuals from carrying openly or otherwise, must post both signs – 30.06 and 30.07. “There is no provision in the law for a joint sign,” he said.
The penalties for violation of Texas Penal Codes 30.06 or 30.07, which have been reduced to Class C misdemeanors, is a $200 maximum fine and no jail time. However, if a handgun carrier refuses to vacate the premises after being asked to do so, the penalty is bumped up to a Class A misdemeanor that includes a maximum fine of $4,000 and a year in county jail – or both.
Also, businesses sporting the old 30.06 signs must secure new ones as of Jan. 1 to comply with the exact verbiage on the new 30.06 signs. “The laws that prohibited you from carrying before Jan. 1 of this year are still in effect,” Butts said, emphasizing, “They haven’t changed.”
Butts reminded the crowd that carrying handguns is still prohibited in Bandera Independent School District buildings and other facilities. “You also need to be aware if you’re attending an off-site program or event affiliated with BISD, you can’t carry,” Butts said.
Discussing handgun carrying on college campuses, Butts said that as of August 1 of this year, concealed firearms will be allowed to be carried on college and university campuses and buildings and in public junior college campuses and buildings on August 1, 2017. However, Butts emphasized that only conceal carry will be allowed on college and university campuses.
To a question about people wearing western-type riggings, Butts said that handguns manufactured before 1898 are not classified as handguns and black powder replicas are classified as non-firearms.
In conclusion, Butts said, “In Bandera, people are used to carrying, but we haven’t seen a vast race to carry openly and there have been no problems associated with the new law. However, I’m sure you agree that if you’re carrying openly and something happens, you’ll have made yourself a target.”

(Source: TSRA Sportsman, November-December 2015, “Wide Open,” by Edwin Walker)