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Old November 25, 2011, 11:23 PM   #1
Kleinzeit
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Help me understand the law re: carrying a handgun in a car in Texas

I need to know what the law is concerning carrying a gun in my car in Texas.

I've been reading around online and it's only confused me, so I beg your indulgence. I vaguely recall reading somewhere that, a year or two ago, the law was changed such that your car is considered the same as your house: you can keep a gun in it and you don't need a CHL, but you can't have it "on your person," i.e., within reach, without a CHL.

Is this right?

Basically, can I leave a handgun locked up in my trunk and drive around wherever I want? Am I breaking the law if it turns out there's a school somewhere over the hill? Might I be asked to prove that I'm driving to or from a range, etc.?

Thanks, peoples.
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Old November 25, 2011, 11:25 PM   #2
Kleinzeit
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Oh, and while we're at it: What if I'm carrying the gun in a backpack while I'm riding a motorcycle? Is it the same deal?
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Old November 26, 2011, 12:06 AM   #3
carguychris
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Culled from an earlier post of mine, with minor edits.

Per Section 46.02 of the TX Penal Code, a civilian without a CHL is allowed to carry a concealed handgun only in these places:
  1. "on the person's own premises or premises under the person's control"[46.02(a)], which includes RVs and trailers [46.02(a-2)]; and
  2. "inside of or directly en route to a motor vehicle that is owned by the person or under the person's control" [46.02(a)(2)], with the caveat that the handgun may not be in plain view [46.02(a-1)].
Important notes:
  • AFAIK the meaning of "directly en route" is a legal grey area, as is the legality of non-licensed CCW in a motor vehicle without an enclosed cabin (one cannot literally be "inside of" a motorcycle or an open farm tractor). This law was passed recently and AFAIK these two provisions have not been contested in court. IOW I would NOT assume it is OK to carry on a motorcycle until the matter is settled by the legislature or the courts.
  • The "plain view" provision is non-specific; IOW the gun doesn't have to be in the glove compartment, a case, or anywhere else in particular, it just has to be hidden. Myself and others have concluded that the owner is free to wear it in a holster as long as he/she stays within the vehicle (see above).
  • The statute does NOT seem to authorize carry if you are a passenger in a vehicle you do not own. The vehicle must be "owned by the person" (self-explanatory) or "under the person's control" (i.e. the carrier is the driver).
Mandatory disclaimer: I am not an attorney, nor do I play one on TV. This is not official legal advice. YMMV, caveat emptor.
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Old November 26, 2011, 02:31 AM   #4
youngunz4life
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http://www.handgunlaw.us/states/texas.pdf

you can carry without a license to carry in TX whether, motorcycle, truck, car, RV. The firearm must be concealed. and you must be legally allowed to own/handle firearms.

also see:

www.handgunlaw.us

click on TX or other states and also U.S.A. for federal laws.
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Old November 26, 2011, 07:56 PM   #5
Kleinzeit
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Thanks for your help! It's much appreciated.

I'm still confused, but will err on the side of caution.
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Old November 26, 2011, 11:54 PM   #6
carguychris
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Quote:
http://www.handgunlaw.us/states/texas.pdf

you can carry without a license to carry in TX whether, motorcycle, truck, car, RV.
FWIW the handgunlaw.us PDF says nothing about motorcycles. Really! Check it again.

FWIW § 541.201 of the TX Transportation Code defines passenger cars, various types of buses, trucks, truck tractors (i.e. 18-wheelers), farm tractors, mopeds, and motorcycles as motor vehicles. However, IMHO the phrase "inside of..." in § 46.02(a)(2) seems to effectively disallow carry on a motor vehicle without an enclosed cabin.
Quote:
I'm still confused, but will err on the side of caution.
It is confusing. IMHO erring on the side of caution is a wise choice until this issue is legally hashed out.
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Old November 27, 2011, 09:41 AM   #7
youngunz4life
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I wasn't citing the law

chris, thanx for your post. erring on the side of caution is always a good choice but waiting until this is hashed out is a little much in my opinion. motorycles were established as vehicles decades ago...either way I don't think someone is gonna legally hash out adding a motorcycle to this law. most motorcycles have a compartment on the seat but that was a good point. the weapon would have to be concealed and if the law allows concealed on your person then any motor vehicle will suffice. I'm not trying to pick things apart, I just don't see why the OP can't exercise his rights here. If he is a law-abiding citizen, can legally own and/or buy a firearm, and if he travels with it concealed, then he is in the clear. He does not need a CCW in TX to do this. If he has a CCW in TX now or in the future, he must give his CCW permit to the Officer with his license upon being pulled over. any more feedback is appreciated, I enjoyed reading your 1st post.
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Old November 27, 2011, 08:34 PM   #8
Kleinzeit
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Common sense would suggest that there needs to be a lawful means of transporting a firearm with a motorcycle. In the absence of a compartment, the most reasonable means of doing so would be with a backpack. Yet, I can easily imagine a police officer deciding that this amounts to carrying a concealed weapon without a permit.
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Old November 27, 2011, 09:00 PM   #9
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Basically, can I leave a handgun locked up in my trunk and drive around wherever I want?
You've always been able to do this.

The new law says that as long as the handgun is concealed you can have it in the passenger compartment and readily accessible to you. There's nothing in the law that suggests you can't have it in a concealed holster, so you could even wear it as long as it's concealed.
Quote:
Common sense would suggest that there needs to be a lawful means of transporting a firearm with a motorcycle.
Trying to interpet the law based on the assumption that it must conform to common sense can get you into a lot of trouble.

For example, a person carrying in a car WITHOUT a CHL can drive into a 30-06 marked parking lot legally while a person carrying in a car WITH a CHL can not. Where's the common sense there?

I don't know exactly how motorcycles are treated, from a legal standpoint. That said, motorcycle carry with a backpack seems like it could be legally problematic. ASSUMING that it's legal to treat a motorcycle exactly like other vehicles even though it doesn't have an enclosed cabin, then you could carry in a compartment in the motorcycle or concealed on your person, or in a backpack while you're actually on (in?) the motorcycle.

HOWEVER, if you don't have a permit and you get off (out of?) the motorcycle (other than to walk up the drive to your house or to some other place you're legally able to carry concealed--i.e. private property where you can legally possess a concealed firearm) then you're breaking the law. So if you have to stop for gas, take a restroom break, get something to eat, etc., you would have to leave the backpack on (in?) the motorcycle to remain legal. Without a CHL, your best best would probably be to carry it in a compartment on the motorcycle.
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Old November 28, 2011, 10:25 AM   #10
Bartholomew Roberts
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For example, a person carrying in a car WITHOUT a CHL can drive into a 30-06 marked parking lot legally while a person carrying in a car WITH a CHL can not.
I haven't looked at this particular section of the law; but I don't see how that could be possible. If you have notice that entry on to a property is forbidden, then continuing to do so is criminal trespass (and committing criminal trespass while armed is a Class A Misdemeanor in Texas). I don't see how the 30.06 sign could be effective notice to CHL holders; but not effective notice to others that entry is forbidden.
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Old November 28, 2011, 11:42 AM   #11
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I haven't looked at this particular section of the law; but I don't see how that could be possible. If you have notice that entry on to a property is forbidden, then continuing to do so is criminal trespass (and committing criminal trespass while armed is a Class A Misdemeanor in Texas). I don't see how the 30.06 sign could be effective notice to CHL holders; but not effective notice to others that entry is forbidden.
Pretty much only covers license holders
§ 30.06. TRESPASS BY HOLDER OF LICENSE TO CARRY CONCEALED
HANDGUN.
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Old November 28, 2011, 02:57 PM   #12
Bartholomew Roberts
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Pretty much only covers license holders
§ 30.06. TRESPASS BY HOLDER OF LICENSE TO CARRY CONCEALED
HANDGUN.
Section 30.06 of the Texas Penal Code spells out what is criminal trepass by a CHL. It says that if you had written or oral notice that entry was forbidden based on your carrying a firearm, then you have committed criminal trespass. It goes on to describe the specific language that must be used in written communication in order to be considered "notice" to CHLs.

Section 30.05 of the Texas Penal Code spells out what is criminal trespass for everyone else. Under that section if:

(1) had notice that the entry was forbidden; or
(2) received notice to depart but failed to do so.

then you are guilty of criminal trespass. Notice is defined as "(A) oral or written communication by the owner or someone with apparent authority to act for the owner" (as well as several other methods of notice that aren't applicable to this discussion).

Unlike Sec. 30.06, there isn't any specific requirement for written communication, so presumably, ANY written notification that meets the criteria would be effective notice. However, I don't see how you could possibly walk into court and say "I saw the 30.06 sign; but I am not a CHL holder so I didn't have effective notice that entry was forbidden."

If the sign meets the 30.06 requirements, I would be willing to bet a court will consider it effective notice to someone with a firearm in the car without a CHL.
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Old November 28, 2011, 10:38 PM   #13
carguychris
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Nutshell summary...

OK, just for grins, I'll wrap this up in a nutshell:

An individual without a TX CHL may carry a concealed handgun:
  • Inside his/her own enclosed motor vehicle on public roads
  • Inside an enclosed motor vehicle that he/she is driving on public roads
  • That is loaded
  • That is readily accessible
  • In a holster worn on his/her body
  • That is stored in any readily accessible closed compartment in the vehicle, including the glove compartment
  • While "directly en route" between the motor vehicle and his/her own property, or other private property where he/she is specifically allowed to carry
An individual without a TX CHL may NOT carry a concealed handgun:
  • Outside a motor vehicle while he/she is NOT "directly en route" between the vehicle and his/her own property; this likely includes rest stops, gas stations, convenience stores, and other places where a motorist might briefly stop
  • While a passenger in a motor vehicle he/she does not own
  • While driving in a private parking area or private drive (note #1) with signage prohibiting firearms
  • While riding a bicycle or a horse, traveling in a trailer drawn by one or more animals, or riding on an electric bicycle or "personal assistive mobility device" (i.e. motorized wheelchair-type scooter) (note #2)
  • While engaged in "criminal activity" (note #3)
It is unclear:
  • Whether an individual without a TX CHL may carry a concealed handgun in a motor vehicle without an enclosed cabin. My opinion? You probably can't, and you probably don't want to be the test case.
  • What the exact legal limits of "directly en route" are.
Notes:
  1. The meaning of "private drive" can be a lengthy legal topic in and of itself, particularly when the drive appears public, i.e. it has street name signage, it's not gated, it connects separate properties, it has mail service, and/or it has municipal trash pickup. THAT SAID... for the purposes of this discussion, let's assume we're talking about driveways that are obviously private, e.g. shopping center and gas station entrances and parking lots.
  2. Although they are driven by motors and may be operated on some public roads, low-horsepower electric bicycles and "personal assistive mobility devices" are specifically exempted from the definition of "motor vehicle" under most subsections of TX law.
  3. Misdemeanor traffic offenses are exempted from "criminal activity", but DUI's conspicuously are not! Another thing to consider before having "one for the road"!
[Edited 11/29 to add "criminal activity" to "May NOT" list.]
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Last edited by carguychris; November 29, 2011 at 10:05 AM.
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Old November 29, 2011, 01:05 PM   #14
secret_agent_man
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That is a pretty broad summary of Texas gun law. Are there any citations available?
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Old November 30, 2011, 08:50 PM   #15
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Quote:
If you have notice that entry on to a property is forbidden, then continuing to do so is criminal trespass (and committing criminal trespass while armed is a Class A Misdemeanor in Texas). I don't see how the 30.06 sign could be effective notice to CHL holders; but not effective notice to others that entry is forbidden.
The wording of the 30.06 sign and the wording of the 30.06 law are very specific and clearly apply only to those with CHLs.

Here's the wording of the sign. It would take truly heroic measures to twist the wording of the sign apply to anyone other than a "holder of a license to carry a concealed handgun" who is "licensed under Subchapter H, Chapter 411, Government Code (concealed handgun law".
"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"
Here's the law.

http://www.statutes.legis.state.tx.u.../htm/PE.30.htm

The law is painfully specific about who it applies to and who commits and offense by disregarding a 30.06 sign.

"TRESPASS BY HOLDER OF LICENSE"
" license holder commits an offense "
"entry on the property by a license holder "
""License holder" has the meaning assigned by Section 46.035(f)"

Perhaps a property owner could post another sign with more general wording that would keep out non license holders, but I don't see how anyone could interpret 30.06 to apply to anyone other than license holders.
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Old December 1, 2011, 09:20 AM   #16
Bartholomew Roberts
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Quote:
but I don't see how anyone could interpret 30.06 to apply to anyone other than license holders.
The point that concerns me is that 30.05 doesn't require any specific written notice, just written notice. So the iossue comes down to whether a 30.06 sign would also be written notice to a non-license holder. The argument you would have to make is "the sign said license holder and I'm not one, so no law broken."

That is a very technical argument. I think it has a chance of succeeding; but I sure wouldn't bet my own money that way.

FWIW, I tried to do some research on criminal trespass to see if there were any cases addressing this. Didn't find any; but some of the cases I did find were bizarre.
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Old December 1, 2011, 09:30 AM   #17
JimPage
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Is it legal to carry concealed in TX without a CHL? If not, no sign would be needed to keep the non CHL holder out, he/she would already be a criminal.

Just my opinion
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Old December 1, 2011, 10:04 AM   #18
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Quote:
JimPage
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Is it legal to carry concealed in TX without a CHL? If not, no sign would be needed to keep the non CHL holder out, he/she would already be a criminal.

Just my opinion
In your car yes.
That was the original topic of this thread.
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Old December 1, 2011, 03:05 PM   #19
carguychris
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In your car yes.
That was the original topic of this thread.
+1.

The debate arises because TX law requires a very specific sign to exclude CHL holders from an otherwise public area, and that sign (the Section 30.06 notice) seems to implicitly allow non-licensed persons to enter a private parking lot with a concealed handgun in his/her vehicle- an act that is generally legal. (If the person were to exit the vehicle carrying a concealed handgun, that is a whole 'nother ball of wax, and one with Not Good legal consequences for the person. )

Non-licensed CCW outside of a vehicle is clearly illegal in most public places in TX except under specific circumstances. Refer to the discussion of the "directly en route" clause in my earlier posts.
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Old December 1, 2011, 11:20 PM   #20
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That is a very technical argument. I think it has a chance of succeeding; but I sure wouldn't bet my own money that way.
I think it would actually be harder to sell the idea that it should be seen as a general notice.

First of all, it's extremely specific. Both the carefully specified sign and the wording of the law apply exclusively to license holders. If one can twist the law to apply it to "non-license holders" even when it clearly says it applies to "license holders" then it would be equally reasonable to claim that it prevents anyone from entering the premises with any kind of weapon at all even though it only applies to handguns. If the courts can essentially change the meanings of the words in the laws then we'd only need one law and we'd expand and extend or invert the meaning of whichever words we needed to in order to make our one law apply to the specific case at hand.

Second, at the time it was passed, car carry was illegal without a license, so it makes no sense to claim that it was intended to give general notice to those carrying without a license. Saying it's meant to apply to those carrying under the auspices of the car carry law would be like saying that a speeding law passed in the late 1800s preventing anyone from travelling over 40 mph in a horseless carriage was meant to apply to airplanes as well even though airplanes hadn't been invented yet when the law was passed.
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Old December 2, 2011, 09:36 AM   #21
Bartholomew Roberts
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Second, at the time it was passed, car carry was illegal without a license, so it makes no sense to claim that it was intended to give general notice to those carrying without a license.
You wouldn't be claiming the 30.06 language was passed with that intent. The point is that Section 30.05 doesn't require any specific form of written communication. If you have notice, via written communication, that entry with a concealed handgun is prohibited, then refusing to leave or continuing to enter is criminal trespass with a firearm (a Class A misdemeanor).

You would simply be claiming that the 30.06 language satisfies the "Written communication" that the concealed carry of handguns is a condition that prohibits entry under Sec. 30.05. You aren't making any claims about the drafting intent.

The counterargument, as you have pointed out, is that the sign very specifically prohibits concealed carry of a handgun by a "concealed handgun license holder." This raises the question of whether a reasonable person would read the 30.06 language and conclude that concealed carry by a non-licensed holder in their vehicle was OK. At best, that is a legal gray area that could very easily bite you if you were ever unfortunate enough to be charged.

From the risk-avoidance perspective, the safest thing to do is treat a 30.06 sign in a parkng lot as notice to people carrying in their cars without a license.

Quote:
First of all, it's extremely specific. Both the carefully specified sign and the wording of the law apply exclusively to license holders.
Yes, it is specific; because as you pointed out, at the time it was written, there was no way for a private citizen to legally conceal carry a handgun without the license. I don't think that is an aspect of the legislative history that works in your favor in court since it means at the time the law was written, the sign was effective notice to anyone legally carrying a concealed handgun.

From a practical perspective, it is an area of law that is unlikely to ever get fleshed out though since it only applies in a very narrow circumstance and your chances of getting caught are very minimal, and even after getting caught, you'd still have a decent chance of not getting charged.
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