There's One Fight Left in the Battle Over Texas Open Carry

Unless something weird happens, the Texas House of Representatives is going to pass open carry today. They'll join the state Senate in approving hip or shoulder-holstered handguns for anyone with a concealed handgun license, sending a bill to Governor Greg Abbott's desk that he's already promised he'll sign. Kory Watkins, the fiery leader of Open Carry Tarrant County, and Jonathan Stickland, Watkins' house member spirit animal, will continue be upset that licenses are required at all. Sun rises, sun sets, etc., etc..

None of that's to say there isn't something interesting to watch during the floor debate. Poncho Nevárez, a Democrat from Eagle Pass who was threatened by Watkins and some of Watkins buddies in his office, has attached an amendment to the bill that will make it easier for private property owners to ban guns from their property.

Today, any owner wishing to ban concealed handguns from his or her property must post what's known as a "30.06" sign. The sign is required to feature the state's 40-word state-sanctioned statement for private property handgun restriction, printed in letters at least one inch tall and in contrasting colors. Two things have sprung up from these requirements: signs that meet the requirements and are as big as toddlers and a cottage industry of gun enthusiasts pointing out locations that can't stop one from carrying because their signs are not compliant.

Nevárez wants to make the whole process easier, by calling for a single "gun-free" sign with a red X through it. The Texas business community supports the plan.

"We support [Nevárez' amendment]. We think the premise owners ought to have the option of just one sign," Bill Hammond, head of the Texas Association of Business, told the Houston Chronicle this week. "For some reason, the NRA opposes Rep. Nevárez's amendment and I don't see why."

Texas' wing of the NRA, the Texas Rifle Association, explained why it opposes allowing simple, easy-to-read signs that would make it easier for property owners to assert their rights in an email to members.

"The PC 30.06 language and sign have been in statute for 18 years and over time most businesses removed their signs, not because of the size or shape of the sign, but because licensees carrying handguns proved to be a non-issue, a non-problem.

In many cases business owners listened to their CHL customers who pledged to take their business elsewhere.

There is NO need, NO reason for Change!," the organization said.

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Stephen Young has written about Dallas news for the Observer since 2014. He's a Dallas native and a graduate of the University of North Texas.
Contact: Stephen Young