Thursday, May 21, 2015

TX: Open Carry Statement of Intent in Texas Senate Committee


HB 910, licensed open carry, has passed the Texas House by large margins (96-35).  A near identical bill, SB 17, passed the Senate by large margins (20-10).  The only real difference in the bills is an amendment added at the third read in the House, to prohibit police from stopping open carriers without any probable cause for doing so. Supporters of the bill say that the amendment is redundant and does not matter;  such stops are already covered by Constitutional law, and are not allowed without probable cause.   Here is the AUTHOR'S / SPONSOR'S STATEMENT OF INTENT, which explains the purpose of taking the amendment out of the bill.   From

Texas is one of only six states that do not permit their citizens to openly carry modern handguns under any circumstances.  The other five states are California, Florida, Illinois, New York, and South Carolina.  Forty-four states allow open carry in some form. 
H.B. 910 would authorize open carry of modern handguns in Texas by anyone with a license, so long as the handguns are carried in shoulder or belt holsters.  The new license to carry created by this bill would replace the existing concealed handgun license.  Applicants would have to meet the same requirements that they currently do to get a concealed handgun license.

The committee substitute to H.B. 910 removes language from the House's engrossed version providing that the police cannot stop someone who is openly carrying and demand to see identification simply because the person is openly carrying.  This language was redundant, because basic principles of constitutional law already establish that the fact that a person is engaged in an activity that is only legal with a license is not sufficient cause for the police to stop the person.  All police detentions require reasonable suspicion of criminal activity at a minimum, and that will remain the case for people who openly carry in Texas after this bill becomes law.
While the Author's statement of intent does not become part of the law, it is germane in interpreting the law.  In this case, it would be easy, because the statement of intent becomes part of the historical record in the passage of the bill, and is available for anyone to read.   Any future AG will have it at their disposal, if there is ever a need to give an opinion on what the legislature intended when they passed the bill. 

Clearly, it does not give blanket authority to police to stop open carriers to check to see if they have a state permit.

 I expect to see HB-910 before the entire Senate on Friday, the 22nd of May, but it has not yet shown up on the official schedule.

©2015  by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.
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Anonymous said...

The problem will be that police will always expand any loop hole. If it is not clearly spelled out you can expect many people to be facing trumped up charges just to cover the stop. They will build their case after they get your name and your gun. The US supreme court ruled all vagrancy and J walking laws void in this country but the cops are still trying to enforce those laws.

Texas TopCat said...

While I like the explicit statement in the amendment, I have to agree that is not necessary and probably not affect any police officers actions. My opinion,is that it was added merely to attempt to delay passage and run out the clock on this session. Campus carry is certainly having that happen, there is wide spread support, but delaying moves will probably stop campus carry this year. Sad but liberals do not let ethics get in the way of their agenda.

Anonymous said...

Texas top Cat, Would you please show me the authority to terminate a persons rights just because they cross any imaginary line. If I need protection in my own home why would I not need it when I am out and about any where I happen to be. When you come on to a campus are you issued a body guard? When you cross a state line is that cause to ignore your bill of rights. It just amazes me how people think. that you can enjoy your constitutional rights in one place but not in another. So a gun makes some people nervous being without a gun makes me nervous. The O n l y thing I fear is not being able to shoot back when necessary. I'm not really concerned about the guy standing in the corner peeing his pants when some thing goes down.