Texas CHL Holders and Penal Code 30.06

Texas Penal Code 30.06 is the section of Texas law which describes a valid notice to a Concealed Handgun License holder that the owner of the property prohibits license holders from legally carrying a concealed handgun into the premises.  The legislators who drafted 30.06 obviously had a sense of humor because the statute number matches one of America’s most famous rifle calibers, the .30 caliber Springfield of 1906  (hence .30-06).

Few other sections of the penal code stir quite as much confusion, emotion, misunderstanding, or debate as 30.06.  There are assumptions made about 30.06 and it is my opinion that some of these assumptions could potentially wind up getting a LTC holder into a legal bind.  So, I’d like to offer a bit of perspective for you to consider.  You are adults and can make your own judgement call on whether to believe or agree with my views.  I am not an attorney.  The views expressed are my own.  Should you have specific questions, please consult your legal counsel.   The information I provide should not be considered legal advice.

PC 30.06 describes the characteristics of a valid legal notice to license holders that they cannot carry into the premises.  It describes the placement of the sign, the size of the lettering, requirement for contrasting colors, that the notice be given in both English and Spanish, and so on.   The first assumption people make is that other signs that do not meet the criteria described in 30.06 or other types of “no gun” signs aren’t valid notice and can be readily ignored.    That is a legal gray area.   PC 30.06 tells you what IS a valid legal notice.  It never says that other signs are or are not valid notice.   That may be subject to the interpretation of a district attorney.  I am not aware of this ever coming up in a court case to set a legal precedent.  So, if you ASSUME that the other types of “no gun” signs aren’t valid notice, you are in fact just making an assumption.  You may or may not be right.

The assumption that many property owners who post these signs make is that the sign serves as a valid legal notice for patrons to keep firearms out of the store.  However, note that 30.06 specifies handguns.  So again, a legal gray area.  Does a business posting a compliant 30.06 sign preclude you from carrying a long gun since 30.06 specifically references handguns?    While PC 30.06 applies to handguns, it is quite possible for a LTC holder leaving their handgun behind and carrying a long gun into an establishment could face some other type of charge.   So, think carefully before you respond to a 30.06 sign by carrying in your long gun instead of your handgun.

Now, lets say a local retailer in your area puts up a 30.06 sign.   To the LTC holder, this is quite offensive.  Perhaps it is a store that you’ve been shopping at for years and you suddenly find yourself unwelcome unless you enter defenseless and have no way to protect yourself or your family while inside or going to/from your car.   How do you react?  What can you do?

The first thing to realize is that it’s the store owner’s property.  They can decide the rules for their establishment, no matter how foolish.   We realize that signs don’t stop criminals or madmen.  They only stop law abiding license holders who are the segment of society with arguably the cleanest records and who have been background checked, finger printed, trained and tested.   As we’ve seen time and time again, anyone who intends to commit a violent crime in an establishment surely isn’t stopped by a sign.  In fact,  the sign lets a criminal know that they have a defenseless victim zone  and may actually embolden a criminal or affect their target selection.  How ironic it is that a store becomes more likely to be the scene of a violent crime AFTER they put up the 30.06 sign.

All of that being said,  what do you do?   I encourage you to very politely ask the manager or property owner what they hope to accomplish with the sign.    Perhaps they didn’t realize that the sign only applies to licensed carry holders or that criminals aren’t inclined to comply with signs.   Ask them how are they going to enforce compliance. After all, the only way that speed limit signs work is that there are patrol officers with radar guns enforcing compliance.  Without enforcement, a sign is nothing more than a suggestion.  It’s worth the effort to ask why they don’t want the business from law abiding license holder (700,000 of them in Texas as of November 2013).   Perhaps ask them what they know about their other patrons that haven’t been background checked, finger printed, photographed, trained, and tested.   Are those other folks going to be swayed by a sign?  Again, how is the store going to enforce the sign?  Without enforcement, any sign becomes merely a suggestion.  Ask them if they accept full responsibility should you be a victim of crime in their store or parking lot.   If they deny your ability to self defense, are they willing to commit to that responsibility on your behalf?

In all likelihood though,  the plea to listen to logic and reason is going to fall on deaf ears.   So, what do you do now?  Well, you only have a short list of options at your disposal:

  1. The best option:  Shop somewhere else.  Why spend your money with a retailer that makes it clear they don’t believe you are a responsible, law abiding patron?  I’m sure their competitors would welcome you.  Let the business know you won’t be back and politely inform them why.  Maybe if logic and reason don’t convince them,  their loss of revenue might.
  2. Comply with the request and leave yourself defenseless in the business and to/from your car in the parking lot.  Leave your gun inside of your unoccupied car while you are inside the store.   Hope no one sees you taking that pistol out of your holster or decides they’ll break into your car while inside to get a shiny new pistol.  Be careful fumbling around with that loaded gun in your car, too.
  3. Ignore the sign and carry anyway.  This turns you into the very criminal that the sign doesn’t affect.  And while the sign is ineffective unless the business has a security screening checkpoint at all entrances to enforce the policy, why on earth would you want to give a business your hard earned dollar and encourage the next business to put up the same sign?  I don’t encourage anyone to break the law in order to give your money to a business that doesn’t trust you.
  4. Make an ill advised political point and go in with a long gun.  After all, 30.06 is about handguns.   You’ll in all likelihood end up in jail.  And there’s a reasonable chance you’ll spend a lot of money on lawyers and in the end, might not have to worry about a concealed handgun license as you’d be ineligible to have one if convicted.

Obviously, my advice is to simply shop elsewhere.  Let the business know your opinion as a consumer.  Make it clear that you’ll shop elsewhere because of their policy.  Again, that’s my conclusion.  Read the statutes and draw your own conclusion on what you think is the right thing to do.

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