Bearing Arms Part I: Texas Tips on Implementing a Lawful Firearms Policy
For three years, Texas law has allowed folks with a concealed license the right to carry their firearms openly. Texas continues to expand the rights of gun owners. In September, a spate of new gun reform legislation in Texas became effective, including looser restrictions on firearms during states of emergency and natural disasters, as well as new prohibitions against landlords from restricting gun ownership within their rented properties. Given this new legislation, we are starting a mini-series dedicated to helping employers navigate the changing landscape of gun rights and regulations in the Lone Star State. In this first installment, we’ll begin by describing the basics of firearm policies.
Private employers who wish to exclude firearms should take steps to develop a clear policy on firearms in the workplace. This policy should discuss the rationale behind the policy, provide clear employer expectations and outline consequences for employee violations. If an employer wishes to give notice to employees that firearms are banned from the workplace, the policy should also include the following language, word for word, from Sections 30.06 and 30.07 of the Texas Penal Code:
“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”; and
“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”.
Alternatively, employers may put up signs containing the same language around the workplace. The signs must be in English and Spanish, use fonts that contrast with the background, use lettering that is at least one inch in height and be placed in a location conspicuous to the public.
It is unlawful for employers to prohibit employees from storing firearms in locked, personal vehicles that are parked in workplace parking areas. As we discussed a few years ago here, an employer may be liable for wrongful termination where they violate this restriction. This prohibition does not extend to employer restrictions on the storage of guns in company cars or on restrictions by chemical manufacturers or oil and gas refiners within certain secure parking areas.
Stay tuned for our next post on firearms policies, which will discuss safety considerations an employer might think about and weigh when drafting a policy.
This information is provided by Vinson & Elkins LLP for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended, nor should it be construed, as legal advice.