On May 26, 2019, the Texas Legislature passed an important bill aimed at allowing the people in the state to carry handguns in public (whether open or concealed) for up to seven days after the declaration of a state or natural disaster.
No license would be required for this open or concealed carry during the seven-day period of evacuation. The governor may further extend this period as needed. This bill was formalized as a law under Texas firearms laws on September 1, 2019.
Rationale Behind the New Law
Under the prevailing laws in Texas, an individual must obtain a license to carry (LTC) before they can be permitted to carry a handgun either for open or concealed carry. However, no such license is necessary for carrying long guns like an AR-15.
According to seasoned Texas firearm lawyers, the rationale behind the new law is to allow Texans to evacuate in the event of a state or natural disaster with their handgun. The new law allows them to carry handguns without an LTC, provided they are legally permitted to own firearms.
During a mandatory evacuation, the people of Texas no longer will be forced to leave behind their handguns in their home or their vehicle for the fear of violating the law. Prior to this law, Texans would have to leave their handguns behind, where they could easily be looted.
Experience of Hurricane Harvey
While those who oppose this law claim that it could create more challenges for law enforcement following a natural disaster, the proponents of the law highlighted its necessity. Texans should have a right to be able to evacuate along with their handguns when a disaster strikes. Many people felt this need in the wake of Hurricane Harvey in 2017.
Following Hurricane Harvey, these firearm owners requested the loosening up of the rules. The NRA extended its support to these requests and said that changes to the law would help Texas protect themselves as well as their property from looters following a natural disaster. For more clarity on this law, gun owners should speak to a competent Texas firearm attorney.
No Fiscal Impact on the State
The new law does not require relief shelters in Texas to admit people carrying handguns in the aftermath of a natural disaster. The shelters are allowed to create their own rules related to guns checking and storage for people who are seeking refuge.
Carrying firearms illegally in Texas is a punishable offense, and is termed as a felony or a misdemeanor, depending on the type of offense. But the new law, which came into force on September 1, 2019, is not likely to cause any significant fiscal cost because it will not add to the burden on the state’s prison system.
If you’re facing a firearm-related offense in Texas, you need a robust legal defense strategy to protect your rights. At Flood-Lewis & Associates, our team of experienced, passionate, and dedicated Texas criminal defense attorneys will give you the best defense possible. With an 80-percent win rate and an in-house crime lab, no one in the state of Texas compares to our resources and team. Call our team 24/7, 365 at (713) 224-5529 for a free case review or use this online contact form to request a free consultation with one of our attorneys.