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Regulatory Alert: Q&A for Texas CUs That Want to Prohibit Guns

Posted: Sep 2, 2021 | Author: Cornerstone Compliance Team
compliance  gun laws 

Previously, in our InfoSight e-newsletter, we provided questions and answers for credit unions in Texas about the new laws regarding guns and the signs for prohibiting guns in their establishments.

In response to some great questions that came in to Information Central, we have now added questions and answers #4-6 to that Q&A. Please see below for answers tied to specifics regarding the necessary signage language.

Question 1: Do we need to update the “gun” signs at the entrances of our Texas credit union?

Short Answer: Yes, you should update the signage at each entrance pursuant to the new language provided in HB 1927.

Details: In the 2021 regular legislative session, the Texas Legislature passed HB 1927, which permits persons at least 21 years of age to carry a firearm in public without first obtaining a license. The bill also provides for new language to be used on signs which may be displayed at entrances informing people that firearms are not permitted inside the building.

Prior to Sept. 1, 2021 (the effective date of HB 1927), Texas law required individuals to obtain a license to carry a handgun in public openly or concealed. Although, the law did permit the open carry of long guns in public without a permit. The law did, however, permit businesses to deny entry to a person carrying a handgun, even if licensed to do so, by posting specific signs at the entry.

HB 1927 amends section 30.05, Criminal Trespass, Penal Code, by providing new sign criteria to be posted at all entrances of a business that wants to prohibit the carry of firearms on the premises. The new sign must include language identical or substantially similar to the following:

“PURSUANT TO SECTION 30.05, PENAL CODE (CRIMINAL TRESPASS), A PERSON MAY NOT ENTER THIS PROPERTY WITH A FIREARM.”

The sign must be in both English and Spanish, in contrasting colors with block letters at least one inch in height and must be displayed in a conspicuous manner clearly visible to the public at each entrance.

Question 2: Can we simply leave up the old signs instead of updating them?

Answer: Technically, yes, you could leave the old signs up. The Legislature did not repeal the signage language in 30.06 (Trespass by a License Holder with a Concealed Handgun) and 30.07 (Trespass by a License Holder with an Openly Carried Handgun).

We strongly urge you to update the signs with the new language as the old signs simply deny entry to a license holder with a handgun.

The new sign is significantly broader and permits you to deny entry to anyone (licensed or not) carrying any type of firearm (handgun or long gun). If you simply kept the old signs up, anyone could lawfully enter carrying a long gun, and anyone without a license could lawfully enter carrying any type of firearm. Therefore, you’d be prohibiting the entry of licensed handgun carriers, but NOT unlicensed handgun carriers nor those carrying long guns, which pretty much defeats the purpose of any such signage.

Question 3: Can we prohibit employees from carrying guns inside the branch?

Answer: Yes, you can prohibit employees from bringing guns inside. However, Labor Code section 52.061 requires employers to permit employees to store firearms and ammunition in the trunk of their cars even if it is parked on the premises. This will now apply to both licensed and unlicensed employees, so you may need to update your policy.

Question 4: Must we hang all three signs now? Must we display the 30.05 sign as well as the old 30.06 and 30.07 signs all in English and Spanish?

Answer: It is acceptable to hang all three signs if you can fit them all in both English and Spanish. This is the most conservative interpretation, and we do know several credit unions that are choosing this approach.

However, we think simply displaying the new 30.05 sign and removing the old 30.06 and 30.07 signs is another option. The new law is clear that a person may provide notice that firearms (general term that does not differentiate between licensed or unlicensed person nor between handguns or long guns) are prohibited on the property by posting the new sign.

It has been brought to our attention that some of the licensed gun advocates may challenge businesses that only hang the 30.05 sign and that some law enforcement officials have expressed that they may not enforce the 30.05 trespass sign against licensed handgun carriers due to licensed persons having the ability to claim a defense to prosecution under section 30.05. This is the reason that some credit unions are taking the more conservative approach by hanging all three signs.

If you choose to display only the 30.05 sign and receive pushback by a licensed handgun carrier or law enforcement official stating that you have not displayed the 30.06 or 30.07 signs, remember that Texas law permits you to provide oral notice that entry on the property by a licensed holder of a concealed or open-carry handgun is prohibited. Therefore, you can provide oral notice at the time of their challenge, and that would satisfy any dispute regarding required notice.

You may wonder if the oral notice must recite exactly what the old signs say. Technically, the specific “signage language in English and Spanish” is required only on a “written notice.” So, you could either tell them orally that pursuant to Penal Code sections 30.06 and 30.07, licensed handgun carriers are also prohibited entry, or you could hand them a printout of the specific “old” signage language on a card or piece of paper.

Question 5: Is there a sign option that allows us to prohibit unlicensed persons from carrying guns on the premises, yet still permits licensed persons to carry guns inside?

Answer: Unfortunately, there isn’t a sign available right on point for this scenario. The signage language in 30.05 to 30.07 all state that signs displayed must be “identical or substantially similar,” and none of the three sign examples speak directly to this being an option.

Some believe this is actually what the 30.05 sign does despite its clear language, so one approach could be to display the 30.05 sign and not enforce it against licensed gun carriers. Practically speaking, neither the credit union nor other members will know whether someone carrying a gun is licensed, so this could present some practical challenges.

We will look into clarifying this issue in the next regular legislative session.

Question 6: Where do we find the Spanish translation of the new 30.05 signage?

Answer: We don’t currently have an endorsed vendor for this, but if you google the issue, you’ll find Spanish translations of the language required for the new sign.

More Questions?
Contact Information Central at 800-442-5762, ext. 8515, or email Suzanne Yashewski at syashewski@cornerstoneleague.coop or Nathan Behncke at nbehncke@cornerstoneleague.coop.

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