On June 16, 2021, Governor Greg Abbott signed HB 1927, the Firearm Carry Act of 2021, (commonly known as the constitutional carry bill) into law. HB 1927 (commonly known as the constitutional carry bill) will allow legally eligible gun owners 21 years and older to carry their firearms without a Texas License to Carry (“LTC”). But before you start carrying your everyday carry (“EDC”) gun openly or concealed without an LTC, there are several things you should know.
Who Can Carry Under HB 1927?
You must be 21 years of age or older;
With some exceptions (see below), you must be able to legally purchase and possess handguns under both federal and Texas law;
You can’t have been convicted within the last five years of certain misdemeanor crimes or you will be disqualified. Those misdemeanor crimes are: Assault Causing Bodily Injury, Deadly Conduct, Terroristic Threat, Disorderly Conduct – Discharge, or Disorderly Conduct – Display. Under HB 1927, you cannot carry without a license until five years have elapsed from the date of conviction.
Note: Texas residency is not required.
Who Is Prohibited from Firearms Ownership and Carry?
Some people will be prohibited from carrying under HB 1927, just as there are people who are prohibited from purchasing or possessing under federal law. That includes, but is not necessarily limited to, the following:
A person under the age of 21;
Felons (anyone convicted in any court of a crime punishable by imprisonment for more than one year);
Fugitives from justice;
A person who is an unlawful user of or addicted to any controlled substance;
Anyone adjudicated as a mental defective or involuntarily committed to a mental institution;
Illegal aliens or those in the U.S. on a nonimmigrant visa and who do not meet an exception;
Anyone dishonorably discharged from the U.S. Armed Forces;
Those who have renounced their U.S. citizenship;
A person who is subject to an explicit court order restraining them from harassing, stalking, or threatening an intimate partner or child of the intimate partner or engaging in other conduct that would place an intimate partner in reasonable fear of bodily injury to the partner or child; and
A person convicted in any court of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence.
Where Are You Not Allowed to Carry Your Gun?
With some exceptions, the following places are generally prohibited to a person carrying a handgun under the authority of Texas Constitutional Carry. Premises of:
School or educational institution, a school or educational institution transportation vehicle, or grounds where a school-sponsored activity is taking place;
Firearms cannot be carried in or on school premises unless it is done according to the school’s written regulation or with written authorization from the institution.
With several notable exceptions, federal law generally prohibits the possession of a firearm within 1,000 feet of a public, parochial, or private school.
Polling place, including during early voting;
More specifically, the building or portion of a building of a polling place on election day or during early voting. This distinction accounts for the fact that various buildings and non-prohibited places are used for elections.
Court or office utilized by a court;
Racetrack where pari-mutuel wagering takes place: horse or dog racing;
In this context, “pari-mutuel wagering” means the form of wagering on the outcome of horse racing or greyhound racing in which persons who wager purchase tickets of various denominations on an animal or animals and all wagers for each race are pooled and held by the racetrack association for distribution of the total amount, less the deductions authorized by this subtitle, to holders of tickets on the winning animals.
The secure area of an airport (e., inside the metal detectors);
Firearms cannot be carried past airport security, whether on your person or in a bag. Firearms must travel as checked luggage according to TSA guidelines.
Within 1,000 feet of a location designated by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (“TDCJ”) as a place of execution on the day a death sentence is to be imposed;
Bar (e., 51% location);
A business is considered a “bar” in Texas if 51% or more of its income from the sale or service of alcoholic beverages for on-premises consumption.
Professional sporting event;
Civil commitment facility;
Hospital or nursing home;
Amusement park; and
Room or rooms of an open meeting of a governmental entity.
Where Can You Carry with a Texas LTC?
With a Texas LTC, a person is exempt from the general federal prohibition on possessing a handgun within 1,000 feet of a school. Even with an LTC, you cannot carry inside a school building unless it is pursuant to the school’s written regulation or with written authorization from the school.
You can carry on the Lower Colorado River Authority property with an LTC but not without one.
LTC holders are allowed to carry in amusement parks and nursing homes as long as the facility has not provided effective Texas Penal Code Sections 30.06 and/or 30.07 notice.
LTC holders may carry into a room or rooms of an open meeting of a government body.
How Does HB 1927 Affect Interactions with Law Enforcement?
Knowing your Second Amendment rights when dealing with law enforcement is vital. HB 1927 contains verbiage specific to what law enforcement can and cannot do to those carrying a firearm:
A law enforcement officer acting in the lawful discharge of their duties can, at any time, disarm a person if they believe it is necessary for the protection of the person, themselves, or another person. The weapon must be returned to the person before that person is released from the scene unless the firearm returns as stolen or the person is arrested following the encounter. This is not new; it’s simply being restated in HB 1927.
The Dutton Amendment was removed from the final version of the bill. However, the bill does not explicitly state that a law enforcement officer can detain you for the sole reason you are carrying a handgun. We hope a court would conclude that the seizure of a firearm would constitute a detention and that detention would need to be based on reasonable suspicion of some criminal offense. But until this provision is interpreted, we will have to wait and see.
Will Businesses Post Where You Can and Cannot Carry?
Property owners and their agents may provide Texas Penal Code Section 30.05 notice to prohibit the unlicensed carrying of a firearm on their property (including inside their business). HB 1927 does not allow you to carry in businesses that post signage that is reasonably likely to come to the attention of the person entering the building that firearms are prohibited.
Businesses currently post and may continue to provide effective Texas Penal Code Sections 30.06 and/or 30.07 notice prohibiting license holders from carrying concealed (30.06) or openly (30.07) in their place of business.
The Texas Alcoholic Beverages Commission states businesses that qualify as bars due to receiving 51% or more of their income from sales of alcoholic beverages for consumption on the premises must post a sign notifying customers of their 51% status. You cannot carry a firearm in a bar under HB 1927.
What Else Should You Know About Texas Constitutional Carry?
Your employer can still prohibit you from carrying a firearm, including a handgun, at your place of work.
The Department of Family and Protective Services will no longer be allowed to prohibit foster parents from transporting a foster child who lives in their home in a vehicle containing a firearm as long as the firearm is in the possession and control of the foster parent and the foster parent is legally allowed to possess a firearm.
The Department of Public Safety will create a free online firearms safety course on their website. However, there is no mandatory training requirement like there is with the Texas Hunters Safety Course (Hunters Ed.).
An unlicensed person cannot carry a firearm while intoxicated unless they are on their own property, in their vehicle, or on/in another person’s property or vehicle with their permission. Keep in mind other laws may affect activities while intoxicated and could, as a result, criminalize carrying while intoxicated under different circumstances.
Will There Be Changes to Penalties for Violations?
Currently, it is a Third Degree felony for a convicted felon to possess a firearm in violation of Texas Penal Code 46.04(a)(1). Under HB 1927, a new offense is created for carrying a handgun by a felon in public. The penalty for a conviction under this law is a Second Degree felony with a minimum 5-year sentence.
Currently, it is a Class A misdemeanor for a person convicted of Assault Causes Bodily Injury Family Violence to possess a firearm before the fifth anniversary of conviction, or release from confinement or supervision (whichever is latest). Under HB 1927, a new offense is created for the carrying of a handgun by one of these people in public. The penalty under this new provision of law is a Third Degree felony.
Note: Convicted felons and those convicted of domestic violence offenses can never purchase, possess, or transport a firearm or ammunition under federal law.
Currently, it is a Class A misdemeanor for a person notified of and currently subject to a family violence protective order in the State of Texas or another state, magistrate’s order for emergency protection, or protective order in a suit for dissolution of marriage to possess a firearm. Under HB 1927, a new offense is created for the carrying of a handgun by a person subject to a protective order, described above, in public. The penalty under this new provision of law is a Third Degree felony.
By Kat Ainsworth Stevens
On September 8, the City of Prairie View City Council held a special budget meeting to meet the State of Texas’s September 29 deadline for adopting its budget. The quorum included all councilmembers and the mayor, with Councilmember Jonathan Randle absent. This year’s budget includes an increase of $3.79 million dollars over last year’s budget of $7.45 million dollars. The budget relies on $3 million dollars in bond revenue and $2.5 million dollars in unrealized grant revenue.
The City’s $11.2 million dollar budget includes payroll and benefits for 13 police officers, with an additional 2 officers budgeted for hire in January, according to Mayor Brian Rowland. In Prairie View, law enforcement comprises about 10 percent of the City’s budget. Ongoing citizen concerns about the police budget stem from the City’s access to support from the Waller County Sheriff’s Office, Prairie View A&M University’s Department of Public Safety, the Texas Department of Public Safety, and Precinct 3 Constable Herschel Smith and his reserves. In addition, the majority of Prairie View’s population lives on the University’s campus and crime rates in the City are low.
Several citizens commented on the City’s use of Crime Control and Prevention District funds to cover police operations. By law, those sales tax funds are to be applied to special law enforcement programs, which are outlined in Chapter 363 of the Local Government Code. City bookkeeper J.J. Johnson commented that the City of Prairie View, because of its size, received special consideration from the Texas Comptroller to apply the special Crime Control and Prevention District funds to operations. He had no explanation as to why no separate Board had existed to administer the funds for over a decade or why no audits existed, despite legal requirements to do so. Nor did Mayor Rowland or any councilmember address why non-residents had been appointed to the newly formed Crime Control and Prevention Board.
In other budget matters, the 2021-22 budget will support expansion of much-needed infrastructure improvements in the area of water and sewer. Residents in the Villa Capri subdivision continue to manage without access to City services and have high expectations for connectivity in 2022. Under debt service, the City will pay $500 thousand dollars towards debt service on loans and bonds from property taxes. The next City budget meeting will include adoption of the proposed tax rate.
By Sylvia Cedillo.
HEMPSTEAD, Texas – The people of Waller County needed something. They’d been stuck in isolation for months, and a reprieve was in order
Enter the community’s biggest event, the Waller County Fair and Rodeo. It was the perfect escape from the monotony that had come through the early months of the pandemic.
“First off, we were blessed that our governor allowed things to open up sooner than many other states,” said Matt Hyatt, president of the Waller County Fair Board. “The next thing that happened was that we as a board decided to push forward with our fair and rodeo. We believed then, just as we believe now, that it was important for the people in our communities to have our fair and rodeo last October.”
That dedication to serving the community paid off. With the help of a faithful group of sponsors, there were concerts, livestock shows, exhibits and all the activities at the rodeo arena, from the PRCA rodeo to the popular Eliminator competitions.
“We felt an obligation to help as many as possible through the pandemic in our control, like food vendors, beverage companies, entertainment, rodeo companies and all the people that are in that industry,” said Mike Higgins, vice president of the fair board. “Those that help put on our rodeo – our announcer, our sound director, our pickup men, our rodeo secretary, timers, clown, bullfighters – and the contestants live on what they do at the rodeo.
“We were looking out for them, too.”
The 2020 fair and rodeo wasn’t a full exposition. Because of the pandemic, some items were pared down a bit, but the fair board continued to push forward and have as many events and exhibits as possible to provide an outlet to the community and to allow its people to celebrate.
“It will be nice to have our carnival back and going, along with the natural flow of people enjoying their fair experience,” Higgins said. “I’m very proud of what we accomplished a year ago. The families, the kids … they needed that. We needed that.
“This community needed to feel the excitement that comes with having the county fair and our local rodeo. Every community was impacted by COVID, and our community was blessed with sponsors that still supported our event. We were able to let the kids finish the projects they started, and they were excited to show them, too. Yes, this is a community event, but really, it’s always been about the kids.”
On September 7th, 2021, the Prairie View Chapter Top Teens and Top Ladies gathered to deliver back to school supplies to the Hempstead Early Childhood Center in Hempstead, Texas for Teacher Jokeisha Campbell’s classroom.
Teacher Jokeisha Campbell and Principal Keri Houston were thrilled to receive the school supplies. The Ladies and Teens provided Clorox wipes, composition books, construction paper, and coloring devices. Of note, Hempstead Early Childhood Center is a daycare center for Pre-K ages three and four years of age. Pictured from left to right are Lady Gwendolyn Burns Carter, Principal Keri Houston, Teacher Jokeisha Campbell, Lady Burnest Carter, and Lady Ruth Smith.
Homecoming Queen Ariel Mayes and King Xavier Lozano
Bad weather and dangerous driving conditions are common. It is more important than ever to practice safe driving techniques in typical winter weather conditions such as rain, wind, snow, ice, sleet and fog.
It is even more important to practice safety in extreme weather conditions such as hurricanes, tornados, torrential rain/snow and electrical storms.
If possible, it is best to postpone a trip and stay home rather than drive if there is an extreme weather system moving through your area.
Here are some tips for driving in bad weather:
Plan ahead. Driving in bad weather usually takes longer and is more stressful. If you did not leave more time to reach your destination and are consequently running late, this will only increase your stress level and could adversely affect your driving. Also, check the weather before you leave. If you can take an alternate route to avoid the brunt of a weather system, do so. You may also want to consider postponing your trip until the weather has improved. If you decide not to postpone, carry a map with you to prevent getting lost when visibility is low, and to show you alternate routes if necessary.
Drive Slowly. This accompanies the above item; you should drive more slowly than usual in bad weather. This decreases the chance of skids and accidents.
Leave Room In Front. Many experts recommend doubling the “cushion” between you and the car in front of you when you are driving in rain, snow, sleet, etc. Brake time is slower in these conditions, and you must allow yourself more room.
Make Sure Your Equipment is in Working Order. Have your tires and brakes checked more frequently in the winter months. Make sure your windshield wipers are in working order and that your headlights are clean. Dirty headlights can significantly reduce visibility, especially in bad weather. Clear your windshield and mirrors of ice or frost before leaving, and keep them clear with your wipers and wiper fluid during the trip. If you need to pull over to scrape ice or snow, be sure to do so in a safe place.
Use Your Low Beams in Fog. Turn on your headlights (make sure to use your low beams, not your high beams) in fog, whether you are driving through it at night OR during the day. Your low beam headlights not only help you to see, but also help other cars to see you. It is also very important to maintain a large following distance in fog and to drive slowly, as you may not see things like another car or a traffic light until it is nearly upon you. Stay close to the right hand side of the road in fog to avoid going over the center line into oncoming traffic.
Listen To The Radio. Listen to a radio station that offers road condition information at a low volume during your trip. The station may offer alternate routes or inform you of road closures and such. Keep it at a low volume so as not to intrude on your concentration; you need to be very focused when driving in bad weather.
Drive Slowly. This accompanies the above item; you should drive more slowly than usual in bad weather. This decreases the chance of skids and accidents.
Buckle Up! Be sure you and your passengers wear seatbelts at all times. Not only is it the law in most states, it can also save lives, especially when driving in bad weather.
Pull Over if You Need to. If you are at all tired, pull over (at a safe spot totally off the road) and rest your eyes. Don’t be afraid of the time you may “waste” by pulling over, it’s certainly a better risk than that of getting in an accident. Also, if the weather is suddenly particularly bad, it may be a good idea to find a safe place to pull off the road and try to wait out the bad spell. If the poor weather involves deep snow or heavy rain, be sure you are not pulling over into a deep puddle or snow bank.
The above are just a few of the ways of helping you and your loved ones stay safe during the bad weather conditions. By Jeff Youngs