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What Constitutes “Notice” for Unlawful Carrying of a Handgun by a License Holder in Texas?

A few years back, I wrote an article that dealt with where all you can carry a handgun in Texas, even if you don’t have a Concealed Handgun License (“CHL”). In case you missed that article, you can read it here. But, living in Texas, I often get questions from friends and family members about where those of us who do have concealed handgun licenses are not allowed to carry handguns. And, as I was purchasing my beer for the weekend last Friday, I noticed this warning sign posted up at the local 7-Eleven. Now, call me a nerd but, whenever I see these types of signs, I always take a moment to actually look them over just to see whether or not they’re actually correct, or valid. Sometimes, they are. Sometimes, they’re not. But, when I see warning signs like the one that I just mentioned above, I get irritated. I get real irritated. Why, you ask? Because, 7-Eleven is either ignorant of the law, or they are blatantly trying to mislead you.

When can a Concealed Handgun License Holder Not Carry a Handgun in Texas?

First, let’s look at Texas Penal Code, Section 46.035, which deals with the Unlawful Carrying of Handguns by License Holders. If you’d like to review the actual statute, you can find it here. (You’ll have to scroll down a bit to view it) But, for the sake of trying not to bore you to death, I’ll try to break it down for you a bit. Basically, the statute says that a CHL holder commits an offense if he or she carries a handgun:

  • in plain view;
  • on the premises of a business that derives 51% or more of its income from the sale or service of alcoholic beverages for on-premises consumption;
  • at a high school, collegiate, or professional sporting event or interscholastic event;
  • at a correctional facility;
  • at a hospital or nursing home;
  • in an amusement park;
  • at a church, synagogue, or other established place of religious worship;
  • at any meeting of a governmental entity; or
  • while intoxicated.

***Please note that this is just a general breakdown of the statute. Please read it in its entirety to gain a full and complete understanding of its provisions. Also, please be aware of Texas Penal Code, Section 46.03, which defines other places that handguns are prohibited — whether you have a CHL or not — including schools, polling places, courts, racetracks, airports, etc.

Most of the time, an offense under Section 46.035 is charged as a Class A Misdemeanor. But, if the offense is committed either at a business that derives 51% or more of its income from the sale of alcohol for on-premises consumption or at a correctional facility, it’s charged as a 3rd Degree Felony.

What Type of Notice, if Any, is Required To Prohibit a Concealed Handgun License Holder from Carrying a Handgun

Depending upon the particular situation, Texas Penal Code, Section 46.035 sometimes requires notice to CHL holders in order for it to apply. For example, without a notice, how would you know whether or not a business derives 51% or more of its income from the sale or service of alcoholic beverages for on-premises consumption? Therefore, Section 46.035 provides for two different types of notice.

The first type of notice deals with the example that we’ve already been discussing — businesses that derive 51% or more of their income from the sale or service of alcoholic beverages for on-premises consumption. Since there’s usually no way to determine what percentage of income a business receives from the sale or service of alcohol, it is a defense to prosecution if you were not given “effective notice.” And, Texas Government Code, Section 411.204 states that effective notice means that these types of businesses that do receive 51% or more of their income from alcohol must prominently display at each of their entrances a sign that gives notice in both English and Spanish that it is unlawful for a CHL holder to carry a handgun on their premises. Also, in order to be valid, the sign must appear in contrasting colors with block letters at least one inch in height and must include, on its face, the number “51” printed in solid red at least five inches in height. This same type of sign, minus the “51,” is also required for most hospitals and nursing homes.

So, looking back to 7-Eleven’s warning sign, you can see the problem. First of all, the sign does not comply with Section 411.204, so it does not count as “effective notice.” Second, 7-Eleven isn’t even a business that derives 51% or more of its income from the sale or service of alcoholic beverages for on-premises consumption. As if that weren’t enough, their warning sign on the left even states that it is a misdemeanor to consume alcohol on their premises!!! (Actually, going strictly off of their sign, they don’t seem to mind if you drink wine on their premises).

Required Notice for Trespass by a Holder of a Concealed Handgun License

The second type of notice that is sometimes required by Section 46.035 is described in Texas Penal Code, Section 30.06, which states that “notice” by written communication means:

  • a card or other document on which is written language identical to the following: “Pursuant to Section 30.06, Penal Code (trespass by holder of license to carry a concealed handgun), a person licensed under Subchapter H, Chapter 411, Government Code (concealed handgun law), may not enter this property with a concealed handgun;” or
  • a sign posted on the property that includes the language above in both English and Spanish that appears in contrasting colors with block letters at least one inch in height and is displayed in a conspicuous manner clearly visible to the public.

While parts of Section 46.035, such as hospitals, nursing homes, amusement parks, places of religious worship, etc., require this type of notice in order to be effective, it is important to note that this type of notice contained in Section 30.06 also acts as a general ban on places where CHL holders may not carry handguns. Therefore, any individual, business, or organization that wants to prohibit the carrying of handguns on their premises by CHL holders may post this type of notice under Section 30.06 in order to make the restriction effective under the law. Another important consideration to take into account when dealing with Section 30.06 is that the notice is not required to be written — it can also be verbal. So, even if there is no documentation or sign giving notice that CHL holders are prohibited from carrying handguns on the premises, you still commit an offense if an individual or business provides you with verbal notice.

A Final Thought on Notice as it Related to the Unlawful Carrying of Handguns by License Holders

Obviously, all of these laws that we’ve been dealing with concerning notice to CHL holders of where they can and cannot carry a concealed handgun are complex. Therefore, this article isn’t meant to be a thorough, complete, all-encompassing authority on the subject. Rather, it’s meant to provide someone who is interested in the topic a basic, fundamental understanding of some of the ways in which notice can and cannot be effective. If you have been charged with Unlawful Carrying of a Handgun by a License Holder, or if you have questions or concerns about this topic, please feel free to contact me at (972) 372-4054.

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