Now that Texas’s "constitutional carry" bill has been signed into law, it would be a good idea for employers and employees alike to educate themselves on the law and their employer’s policies.
For those that may be unaware, Governor Abbott recently signed House Bill 1927, which eliminates the requirement for Texas residents to obtain a license or permit to carry handguns (whether concealed on their person or carried in the open), provided they are not otherwise barred from possessing a firearm under state or federal law. The law becomes effective on September 1, 2021.
It does not amend existing law under Section 52.062(b) of the Texas Labor Code, where employers may prohibit employees from carrying firearms on business premises. This law, however, still prohibits the carrying of firearms in 51% bars, sporting events, state-run hospitals, prisons, and amusement parks. Businesses may still prevent civilians from bringing firearms onto business premises so long as oral or written notice is provided.
Something to note: "Premises" are defined as the physical building or the portion of the building and excludes public or private parking lots, driveways, streets, sidewalks, or similar exterior areas. So technically employees are allowed to keep a concealed handgun in their vehicle when parked in an employer's parking garage but may be prohibited from carrying it inside their workplace.
Although notice can be given verbally, it is prudent to include this notice in the employee handbook. The policy should make clear that the business prohibits concealed carry and open carry. In addition to a formal policy, the business premises may also include the 30.06 and 30.07 Texas Penal Code signs to give notice to employees.
The 30.06 sign forbids people from carrying a concealed handgun into a property, in compliance with Section 30.06 of the Penal Code.
The 30.07 prohibits people from entering a property with an openly carried handgun.
As mentioned, it is still illegal for the public to carry handguns into a bar. This means that if the business makes more than 50% of its revenue from alcohol sales, the bar must post a red sign on the premises that warns the public that possession of a handgun – in any manner – is a felony.
However, restaurants – premises where less than 50% of the revenue comes from alcohol – now have discretion. This may have some unintended consequences since many bars converted into restaurants during the pandemic to stay in business. Restaurants can get ahead of this by posting 30.06 or 30.07 signs which prohibit licensed gun holders from open carry or concealed carry, respectively. Restaurants can also post a 30.05 sign to keep unlicensed gun owners out.
If your existing weapons policy explicitly prohibits firearms, it would be a good idea to remind your employees that nothing has changed. If your existing weapons policy permits the carrying of weapons in some fashion, you may think about revising your policy to reflect the parts of the law you wish to allow and the parts you wish to prohibit.
Our usual recommendation remains the same: employers of every size should have a clear weapons policy. Ideally, that weapons policy should prohibit the licensed and unlicensed carrying or possession of firearms on the employer’s premises by employees and other individuals. And civilians should not be allowed to enter the business’s premises with a gun at all. Your commercial insurance provider would probably agree with those recommendations.
We want to be clear that this is not a political statement. It is a prudent measure that protects employers, employees, and the general public.
If you are interested in creating a weapons policy for your business or revising your business's existing weapons policy or employee handbook, please fill out our contact form or email firstname.lastname@example.org.