On January 1, 2016, the Texas open carry law, House Bill 910 (“HB 910”), goes into effect. The law allows qualified individuals to carry openly displayed, but properly holstered, handguns into public businesses—including banks. This blog post provides an overview of HB 910; addresses banks’ options for preventing openly carried handguns on their premises; and provides links to additional information on HB 910.

Overview

HB 910 only applies to handguns: The law applies to handguns, which the Texas Penal Code defines to mean “any firearm that is designed, made, or adapted to be fired with one hand,” not to any other weapons. HB 910 does not allow open carry of shotguns, rifles, or any other weapon falling outside of the Penal Code’s definition.

HB 910 requires handguns to be holstered: HB 910 requires licensed individuals to carry handguns in a “shoulder or belt holster.” The law does not allow open display of handguns in any other manner. HB 910 does not, for example, allow an individual to carry a publicly displayed handgun in his hand or tucked into a waistband.

HB 910 allows a holstered handgun to be openly displayed: HB 910 allows the intentional display of a handgun “in plain view of another person in a public place.” The statute does not provide specific guidance on what that language means, but it is reasonable to assume that a licensed individual may carry a handgun in an allowed holster without any attempt to conceal it, in a similar manner as police officers carry openly displayed and holstered handguns.

Prohibition    

Assuming your bank wishes to prevent open carry on its premises, HB 910 provides several methods for doing so. There is, though, no requirement that a bank prohibit open carry.

To prevent open carry on its premises, a bank must take at least one of the three following actions:

Post a sign: A bank may post a sign meeting the following requirements.

The sign must state: “Pursuant to Section 30.07, Penal Code (trespass by license holder with an openly carried handgun), a person licensed under Subchapter H, Chapter 411, Government Code (handgun licensing law), may not enter this property with a handgun that is carried openly.”

The sign must have the above language in English and in Spanish.

The sign must be “displayed in a conspicuous manner clearly visible to the public at each entrance to the property.”

The sign must appear in contrasting colors with block letters at least one inch in height.

An important note: if your bank wishes to also prevent the concealed carry of handguns on its premises, it must display a separate sign, with the following language: “Pursuant to Section 30.06, Penal Code (trespass by license holder with a concealed handgun), a person licensed under Subchapter H, Chapter 411, Government Code (handgun licensing law), may not enter this property with a concealed handgun.”

As of January 1, 2016, the concealed carry sign must also be in English and Spanish, appear in contrasting colors with block letters at least one inch in height, and be displayed in a conspicuous manner “clearly visible to the public.”

Provide a card: HB 910 allows the “owner of the property or someone with apparent authority to act for the owner” to provide “a card or other document” to an openly carrying individual stating that open carry is not allowed in the bank. That card or document must contain the same language, quoted above, that would go on the sign.

HB 910, however, does not define what constitutes “apparent authority to act for the owner.” One could reasonably assume that “someone with apparent authority to act for the owner” may include a uniformed or otherwise readily identifiable bank employee.

Give oral notice: An “owner of the property or someone with apparent authority to act for the owner” may provide “notice . . . by oral . . . communication” that “entry on the property by a license holder openly carrying a handgun” is forbidden. HB 910 does not go into further detail as to how or when the oral notice must be given.

Whether to prevent open or concealed carry handguns on bank premises, and how best to do so, are questions you should consider addressing with your insurer, risk mitigation specialists, and customer-facing employees, among others.

Other Resources

The Texas Bankers Association has a very informative 11-minute video on HB 910, copies of HB 910-compliant signs, and other resources available on its website at http://www.texasbankers.com/Texas_Bankers/Handgun_Signs.aspx.