"APPROVED BY THE TEXAS DEPT. OF PUBLIC SAFETY
FOR USE IN CONCEALED HANDGUN LICENSE TRAINING."

UPDATES


THE TEXAS GUN OWNER'S GUIDE

Updates for 2005—2006

 

COMPREHENSIVE LIST of all 83 changes in the Sixth Edition (Posted 8/06)

The Sixth Edition release date is August 18, 2006.
All early orders will be held until the new edition is available
.


The changes for earlier editions are posted here.

A complete historical record of Texas gun law changes since 1995.


Major Changes to Edition 5 for the year 2005 appear below (Posted 8/05)
The new Sixth Edition has all these changes included.

13 NEW GUN LAWS IN TEXAS - 2005

These laws go into effect on Sept. 1, 2005,
except SB 734, which went into effect immediately.

CHL now good for five years instead of four, non-residents welcome to apply
HB 225 -- Amends Government Code 411.173(a), 411.173(b) and 411.183(b)

Extends the renewal period for a concealed handgun license from four to five years with no increase in cost. Allows residents of any other state to apply for a Texas CHL (used to be limited to only those states that didn't issue their own permits). Allows such licenses to expire and be renewed the same as resident licenses. A background check is defined as a search of NCIC and III databases (National Crime Information Center and Interstate Identification Index, both run by the FBI).

Half-price sale for CHLs for the military, and elligible at age 18 not 21.
HB 322 -- Amends Government Code 411.172, 411.174(a) and 411.184(a)

Reduces all fees (taxation) for a CHL by 50%, for the armed forces, reserves, national guard and state guard, but not for veterans as originally planned (the state Senate removed them). Also reduces the age from 21 to 18 at which members of those groups, including veterans but not the state guard, can get a CHL. Such applicants must be honorably discharged if they are out of service, and must meet the standard eligibility requirements. They must also provide a pair of color profile passport photos when applying.

Shooting across property lines generally banned
HB 505 -- Adds Parks and Wildlife Code 62.0121

Makes it a class C misdemeanor to knowingly fire a gun, while hunting or for recreational shooting, across a private property line. There is an exception if you own the property on both sides of the line, or have written permission from whoever owns property on the line. The permission must have the shooters name, identify the property, and be signed by the landowner. Being charged under this law does not protect you against being charged under other laws too.

Hunting on submerged land redefined
HB 506 -- Adds Parks and Wildlife Code 62.002, amends 61.022(a)

Makes it illegal to hunt, or take any wild animal or wild bird, from private land that is submerged under water and properly posted for no hunting. Detailed definitions for what constitutes submerged, and proper posting, are included. Exceptions exist for the person who owns the land, or with consent of the landowner, or for special lands adjacent to specific water areas such as tidewater limits, gradient boundaries of navigable rivers, and more. An exception also exists for fishing.

No CHL shooting test for qualified military personnel
HB 685 -- Adds Government Code 411.1881

Exempts all military personnel and veterans from taking the shooting test of the CHL program if they have been weapons certified by the military in the past five years. DPS must implement procedures to accept and use such certifications.

THE BIGGEST CHANGE OF THE YEAR:

"Traveling" defined at last, almost, after more than 125 years
HB 823 -- Amends Penal Code 2.05, 46.15

Analysts at the NRA, along with the Texas State Rifle Association’s Legislative Committee describe these two new amendments this way:

“Texas H.B. 823 prevents the police from routinely arresting a law-abiding person who is transporting a concealed pistol in his motor vehicle. This is accomplished by clothing a law-abiding person with the presumption of being a traveler. The traveler presumption may be rebutted by the state by presenting proof beyond a reasonable doubt. In plain terms, a law-abiding person should have no problem transporting his pistol in a motor vehicle provided the pistol is concealed.”

Texas Attorney Sean Healy has an eight-page paper
attempting to describe the new situation, read it here.

NRA short version (6/05):
“Legalizes the carrying of concealed handguns in private vehicles without a CHL.”

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Background: Since 1871, carrying a handgun in Texas, despite the Hollywood version of history, has been nearly totally banned for the public (long guns are unaffected by all this). A person who is “traveling” with a handgun is one of the very limited exemptions under the law. However, under this arrangement, mere possession of a handgun was presumed to be guilt of illegal carry, and it was up to you to prove your innocence after arrest, by proving you were traveling.

“Traveling” was not defined. Scores of county and state court cases generated numerous definitions of what constitutes “traveling,” many not even similar, many conflicting with each other. See 60 of them summarized in The Texas Gun Owner's Guide. Gun owners had no way of knowing if they were legal or not, abuse was rampant, it was a mess.

A primary function of written law is to give fair warning of what behavior is subject to punishment. The law therefore must give people a clear, understandable, unambiguous description of what the law is. When it fails to do so, it is invalid in court. That’s the principle at least. It has not been sufficient to save Texans from over a century of guessing whether they were truly traveling when they did so armed, and being arrested and convicted for simple possession of their private property.

Some Texans regained the ability to bear arms in 1995, when the CHL law was passed and signed by Governor (now President) Bush. It provided much needed relief from the long denial of rights. About 1% of all Texans have obtained a government license and can carry as they travel around the state. The other 99% are still under the ban that began in 1871.

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What the law does is create a definition of "traveling" at last, for carrying a firearm in a private motor vehicle only. It is actually a definition of a presumption of traveling, which the state would have to disprove in order to go after you for possession of a handgun. HB 823 is a somewhat roundabout way of decriminalizing a law-abiding person’s carry of a concealed handgun in a vehicle without a permit. Technically, it leaves the offense intact, and makes it hard for the state to come after you.

It seems to get the job done. But until the courts get a hold of a few people trying to bear arms in their vehicles under this law, the true effect is unknown, and who wants to be in the first few test cases, right?

The switch to a real definition is a step in the right direction, even if it only applies in vehicles. (No one is talking about how you legally get to and from your wheels. There are already some narrow exemptions for things like going hunting, to the range, to a gun store, etc.).

Next however, if we're lucky, the whole concept of criminalizing you and your personal property (firearms) for mere possession, when no criminal act is attached, will be abandoned altogether and our rights will take a giant leap forward.

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The definition of "traveling," for the exemption from a charge of illegal carry under 46.15(b)(3), is this:

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.

-----

Further confusion comes from the law's complicated jury instructions, burdens of proof, and presumptions about whether the person charged was in fact traveling at the time. It does appear to now put the burden of proof on the state, where it belongs and which is proper, so you're innocent until proven guilty. This will need some shakeout in court, with someone's future on the line.

The old model was the opposite -- your were guilty unless you could prove your innocence as an indefinable traveler -- a horrendous, un-American festering wound on the justice system. That euphemistically named "affirmative defense" procedure is so contrary to everything America stands for it should be abolished, its perpetrators run out of town, and I'm being nice about it.

The long line of logic attached to the traveler definition is (sit down):

If charged with illegal carry, and there's a presumption you're a traveler, the jury must be told of the traveler exemption, unless the judge decides the evidence can't reasonably support it; if the jury gets the traveler evidence it's presumed good unless the state can disprove it beyond a reasonable doubt; if the state fails to disprove it the jury gets it as a fact; if the jury decides it is not fact the state still must prove each other element of the complaint. Approximately -- if anyone out there disagrees or cares to discuss it, reach me at gunlaws.com, and I'll see about posting anything with merit. I decide merit. Read Healy’s paper, it helps.

Half-price sale for CHL renewals for seniors (people over 60)
HB 1038 -- Amends Government Code 411.195

Reduces the renewal tax for a CHL by 50%, from $70 to $35, for people over 60 years old. Seniors already enjoy a half-price break for new, duplicate and modified licenses. Tax reductions are generally a good thing of course, and now Texas boasts improved pricing and wider availability of its CHL. But the fact that a tax still exists on a fundamental right, and that those rights are banned without payment of the tax, under penalty of imprisonment, and permanent harm to your reputation, is fundamentally wrong and don't you forget it, no matter how much you treasure your little CHL card.

Pay your CHL tax with cash, personal check or credit card
HB 1483 -- Amends Government Code 411.196, 411.186, 411.181, and 411.184

Allows applicants for a CHL to pay the "fees" (taxes) with a personal check, cash, or credit card. Formerly, our trusting government would only take cashier's checks or money orders. If you pay in cash, you must do it in person. If you bounce a payment, all future payments must be by cashier's check or money order. Bounced payments are grounds for revoking a license. You can reapply for a license that was revoked for a bad payment at any time, by paying an additional $25. The same goes for duplicate or modified licenses.

"Convicted" does not include some deferred adjudications
HB 1831 -- Amends Government Code 411.171(4), adds 411.1711

Changes the definition of "convicted" for the purpose of getting a CHL license (a person who has been convicted of certain offenses cannot obtain a CHL). A "deferred adjudication" is removed from the definition if it is at least 10 years old prior to applying. The exception is not available if the deferred adjudication is for Title 29 of the Penal Code (robbery), or Title 5 of the Penal Code (offenses against people, which includes homicide, kidnapping, restraint, human trafficking, sex offenses and assaults).

New shooting limits on rivers and streams in nine counties
HB 2027 -- Adds Parks and Wildlife Code 284.001

It's illegal to discharge a gun or bow if you are on the bed or bank of a navigable river or stream, or if any portion of the discharge could contact the bed, bank or water. This applies only in the counties of Dimmit, Edwards, Frio, Kenedy, Llano, Maverick, Real, Uvalde, and Zavala. Why, I wonder. Exceptions exist for shotguns loaded with ammo that releases only shot when fired, and for proper authorities acting in an official capacity. The law has no effect on concealed carry with a CHL, and says so.

Officials exempt themselves from carry bans
HB 2110 -- Amends Penal Code 46.15(a), 30.05, repeals Penal Code 46.15(g) (from SB 103 in 2003), and adds Occupations Code 1701.357

Changes the list of which officials are exempt from the ban on carrying firearms. The bans in Penal Code 46.02 and 46.03 do not apply to federal judges, or to district, county or criminal district attorneys who have a CHL. The former exclusion for "commissioned peace officers of a recognized state" is deleted, since new federal laws (18 USC 926B and 926C) provide nationwide exemption for off duty and retired peace officers. The qualifications and administration procedures for such officers are adjusted to better comply with the federal law. A previous state law, 46.15(g), designed to allow out-of-state officers to carry in Texas, was repealed.

Officials exempt themselves from carry bans
SB 578 -- Amends Penal Code 46.15, repeals 46.15(g) (from SB 103 in 2003), amends Occupations Code 1701.357

Helps implement the new federal law that allows off duty and retired peace officers to carry firearms concealed nationwide, and adjusts the list of who is eligible. That law requires the officers to carry photo ID from their departments, and be able to show recent certification in firearm proficiency to qualify for the power to carry. This law allows this select group of people to request ongoing certification, and to have the necessary paperwork issued to them. The previous state law, 46.15(g), designed to allow out-of-state officers to carry in Texas, was repealed.

Shooting on agricultural land, and limits on city power to regulate shooting
SB 734 -- Amends Agriculture Code 251.002, 251.005 and Local Government Code 43.002, and adds Local Government Code 229.002.

Cities previously had unbridled authority, with no public recourse, to pass an ordinance prohibiting the discharge of a firearm, air gun or bow on any new land annexed by a city, regardless of its previous usage or lack of development. This gives landowners recourse and only effects city-annexed lands. It should help to slow down the anti-gun-rights effects of urban sprawl.

First, it limits the definition of an "agricultural operation" to a specific list of activities, and adds silviculture (development and care of forests) and wildlife management to the existing list. The law previously was not limited to the activities on the list.

Because some city regulations could affect shooting, certain controls are expanded and described in greater detail than previously, to help limit abuse. A city in general may not regulate anything on the redefined agricultural operations outside its boundaries, or that exist on newly annexed land.

Cities are also now specifically prohibited from regulating shooting on certain defined lands: 1 - if the gun is a shotgun, air gun, BB gun or bow and arrow, on 10 acres or more and not within 150 feet of a residence or occupied building on another property, if it is fired in a way that is unlikely to cross a property line, or 2 - for a centerfire or rim fire pistol or rifle of any caliber on 50 acres, not within 300 feet of a residence or occupied building on another property, and in a way not likely to cross a property line. The defined lands include those within the extraterritorial jurisdiction of a city, or areas annexed after Sep. 1, 1981.

 

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