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Are CHL Holders at the Capitol Committing a Felony When a School Trip Walks By?

February 19, 2013

A concealed handgun licensee walks into the Capitol with a concealed handgun under his coat.  As he walks in, he’s greeted by an “express lane” where he displays his concealed handgun license to a DPS security officer and is admitted to the building without being screened by a metal detector. The procedure gives the licensee a sense of confidence that he has the approval of the state to carry in the building.  To his right is a group of school children passing through security on their way into the Capitol on a field trip.

Has the man committed a Felony?

Under the most straight–forward interpretation of section 46.03 of the penal code, yes. That section reads:

“A person commits an offense if the person intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly possesses or goes with a firearm . . . on . . . any grounds or building on which an activity sponsored by a school or educational institution is being conducted . . . .”

Yesterday I filed a bill House Bill 1298 which would correct this poor wording and which would provide a defense for CHL holders who come into contact with field trips while in areas where they are normally allowed to carry a handgun.

We owe it to CHL holders to have clear laws about where they can and cannot carry. I hope all of my colleagues, Republican and Democrat alike—including those who don’t even support concealed carry—will recognize that law abiding CHL holders don’t deserve to be subject to felony prosecution just because they happen to be present in the same building with kids on a field trip.