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Where Do You Stand on Possession of Firearms in Your Credit Union?
Monday, May 16, 2016 6:40 AM

Dean Borland, SCMS, CUDE, VP Product Development, Credit Union Resources

Texas’ open carry law went into effect on January 1, 2016. The open carry of firearms in Texas is controversial, but Texas is not the only state to adopt open carry. Open carry of handguns has been legal in Oklahoma since November 1, 2012.

Arkansas also licenses the possession and carry of firearms, but Arkansas law is unclear about open carry. Arkansas Act 746 decriminalized the open carry of a firearm by persons not prohibited from legally possessing a firearm, but it falls short of legalizing open carry. As a result, enforcement of open versus concealed carry of a firearm in Arkansas is left to interpretation, often by local law enforcement.

Gun laws of each of the three Cornerstone states define where firearms may not be carried. Although the lists are somewhat different, firearms generally cannot be carried, even by licensed individuals, in polling places; federal government offices, including police stations, jails, and post offices; schools; or public sporting events. Ironically, my research uncovered no expressed prohibition against carrying a firearm on the premises of a bank or credit union in any of the three states. However, credit unions do have a say in whether firearms are permissible in their offices.

In Texas, residential or commercial landowners are permitted to post signage that preemptively bars licensed persons from entering the premises while carrying a firearm. As of January 1, 2016, the charge for failing to heed signage prohibiting possession of a firearm in Texas is a Class C misdemeanor, unless it can be shown at trial that the individual possessing the firearm was given oral notice and failed to depart, in which case the penalty is a Class A misdemeanor.

Arguments for and against can be passionate and differ widely, but the choice is yours. Many people believe the United States Constitution protects the rights of individuals to “bear arms.” Proponents argue that licensed gun owners who have been fingerprinted, subjected to background check, and trained in the proper and safe use of a firearm are a deterrent to violent crime. Detractors argue that there is no room for armed citizens in a civilized society.

If a property owner chooses to ban the possession of firearms in Texas, signage meeting specific requirements of law must be conspicuously posted and “clearly visible to the public” at each entry to the property. Texas law states that a compliant sign must be:

  1. in contrasting colors,
  2. with block letters,
  3. having text 1” or greater in height,
  4. in both English and Spanish, and
  5. contain specific verbiage defined by statute.

Separate signs must be posted to prohibit concealed carry (Section 30.06) and open carry (Section 30.07). Signage that does not conform to statutory requirements is NOT enforceable. Like Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas also have state-specific “no gun” signage requirements.

What this means for credit unions is that you can decide whether to permit or ban the possession of firearms, whether concealed or openly carried, on your property. And the decision is not limited to members. Personally, I am opposed to posting armed guards in credit union lobbies. I believe that the visible presence of armed security personnel could actually accentuate the threat of violence in a “takeover” robbery. In my mind, I can imagine a takeover bandit immediately neutralizing an armed guard as part of a takeover robbery plan.

In deciding whether to allow or ban the possession of firearms, credit union leaders must determine what is in the best interest of its business and its members. The choice is yours. Choose wisely.