Saturday, June 18, 2005

Some HB823 Details

Just thought I'd post some details (as I have been able to find them) regarding House Bill 823, recently passed by the Texas Legislature, which is awaiting the signature of Governor Perry to become law. What this does is clarify "traveling." Section 46.02 of the Texas Penal Code covers the unlawful carrying of weapons:
"A person commits an offense if he intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly carries on or about his person a handgun, illegal knife, or club."
Section 46.15 is about nonapplicability. One of the exemptions to 46.02 is if you are "traveling." This ambiguous term has caused endless amounts of confusion, not the least of which is because different authorities in different areas define "traveling" differently. Is driving down the block to the convenience store "traveling"? Or do you have to cross county lines to be "traveling"? I can't find the citation, but a few years back there was a much publicized bust in which a man was deemed to be unlawfully carrying a loaded 9mm pistol because he claimed he was on his way to his deer lease, and the 9mm pistol is not a weapon that is normally used for such activity. This was due to subsection (4):
is engaging in lawful hunting, fishing, or other sporting activity on the immediate premises where the activity is conducted, or is en route between the premises and the actor's residence, if the weapon is a type commonly used in the activity;
Now, with HB 823, we have a definition of "traveling."
(i) For purposes of Subsection (b)(3), a person is presumed to be traveling if the person is:
(1) in a private motor vehicle;
(2) not otherwise engaged in criminal activity, other than a Class C misdemeanor that is a violation of a law or ordinance regulating traffic;
(3) not otherwise prohibited by law from possessing a firearm;
(4) not a member of a criminal street gang, as defined by Section 71.01; and
(5) not carrying a handgun in plain view.
I am not a lawyer. However, it seems to me that this is good news for all law-abiding Texans. With passage of this bill, it will become completely legal for any law-abiding Texan to have a concealed handgun in their vehicle while going anywhere for any reason. Just make sure you obey all the traffic regulations. We'll probably have some shakedown regarding parking lots at businesses that want to prohibit handguns in cars in their parking lots (this is already sometimes a problem with CHL holders). But overall, I think this will be a good law.

UPDATE: And moved to top (original post June 8). On June 16 Governor Perry signed this bill into law. I am surprised that this one seems to have slipped under the antis radar. Or maybe they don't realize what it means. This bill will allow any law-abiding citizen in Texas to carry a concealed handgun in their personal automobile (but not in, say, a vehicle owned by their employer). I kept waiting to hear "Blood Will Run In the Streets!" or "Road Rage Murders Will Abound!!" or "Stuff Like That!!!" But it didn't happen.

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