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ASK A COP — Port Arthur Police talk new law allowing legal carrying of handgun

The Texas House Bill 1927, the Firearm Carry Act of 2021, amends the Code of criminal procedure and Penal Code to make it LEGAL for persons 21 years of age or older to carry a handgun.

This carry can be done either openly in a holster or concealed and in a manner consistent with state and federal law WITHOUT first obtaining a handgun license.

This constitutional carry is NOW permitted in the state of Texas provided they are not otherwise prohibited from possessing a firearm and have not been convicted of certain specific offenses within the preceding five years.

The new bill maintains prohibition against carrying a weapon on certain premises and further maintains restrictions on the authority to carry a handgun on certain other premises, including college campuses, which is reserved as a privilege only of license holders.
It is interesting to note that the bill requires the Department of Public Safety to develop and post on its website a course on firearm safety and handling that is accessible to the public free of charge.

The bill also makes a person who has been arrested, charged and convicted of an offense involving the unlawful carrying of a handgun on another’s property before Sept. 1, 2021, ELIGIBLE  to have ALL records and files relating to the arrest expunged.

This Constitutional carry bill revises penalties for certain conduct involving a handgun, including by increasing the penalty for unlawful possession by an individual to a felony and also give a defense to prosecution for carrying a weapon in a place where weapons are prohibited for a person carrying a handgun who promptly departs from a local being notified that carrying a weapon at that local carry.

The law pertaining to Penal Code 46.02, Unlawful Carrying Weapons [HB1927 and SB550]. The statute now says that a person commits an offense if he intentionally, knowingly or recklessly carries on or about his person a handgun while he’s either younger than 21 years of age or he’s been convicted of certain specified offenses in the five years immediately preceding the current violation and he’s not:

(A) on the person’s own premises or premises under the person’s control; or

(B) inside of or directly en route to a motor vehicle or watercraft that is owned by the person or under the person’s control.

Law now reads; A person commits an offense if the person intentionally knowingly, or recklessly carries on or about his or her person a handgun in a motor vehicle or watercraft that is owned by the person or under the person’s control at anytime in which:

(1) the handgun is in plain view, unless the person is 21 years of age or older or is licensed to carry a handgun and the handgun is carried in a holster or

(2) the person is:

(A) engaged in criminal activity, other than a Class C misdemeanor that is a violation of a law or ordinance regulating traffic or boating  or

(B) prohibited by law from possessing a firearm.

Now the new subsection relates to people who openly display their handguns or who carry handguns without using a holster: A person commits an offense if the person carries a handgun and intentionally displays the handgun in plain view of another person in a public place. It is an exception to the application of this subsection that the handgun was partially or wholly visible but was carried in a holster.

Again, note that the statute no longer requires the holster to be a shoulder or belt holster.

HB1927 adjusted the punishment range for parts of Unlawfully Carrying a Weapon. An offense under Subsection (a-7) is a 2nd degree felony with a minimum term of imprisonment of five years if the actor was prohibited from possessing a firearm under Penal Code 46.04 (a) [felon in possession of a firearm]; or a 3rd degree felony  if the actor was prohibited from possessing a firearm under §46.04 (b) [prohibited for five years under state law because of an Assault F/V conviction.

Art. 14.03 addresses Authority of Peace Officers [HB1927] and states that peace officers acting in the lawful discharge of their duties may temporarily disarm a person at any time if they reasonably believe it is necessary for safety of the officer, another person or the person himself.

The peace officer shall return the handgun to the person before permitting the person from the scene if the officer determines that the person is not a threat to the officer, person or another individual. Now if the person has not committed a violation that results in the arrest of the person.

This law also permits peace officers to disarm a person when the person enters a non-public, secure portion of a law enforcement facility if the law enforcement agency provides a gun locker or other secure area where the peace officer can secure the person’s handgun.

The peace officer shall secure the handgun in the locker or other secure area at that time  and shall return the handgun to the person immediately after the person leaves the nonpublic, secure portion of the law enforcement facility.

Information obtained from 2021–2023 State and Federal Law Update 87th Legislative Session.

Join Me, Officer Rickey Antoine and the CREW Stephen Buzzard Boots Mosley, Lelo mouth of Hwy 69/73 Washington & Tejas Lil Man Morning Star for Ask A Cop live, on KSAP 96.9 FM The Breeze every Tuesday from 1 to 2:30 p.m. as we discuss “Ask A Cop.” Tune in via internet at ksapthebreeze.org. Call in questions live at 409-982-0247. Remember to email questions to rantoine@portarthurpd.com, call 409-983-8673 for voicemail or mail them to: Ofc. Rickey Antoine, 645 4th Street, Port Arthur, Texas, 77640. If you happen to see me in public, you can always “Ask A Cop!”