As many in law enforcement and the "real world" of concealed carry have come to recognize, the NRA's three primary rules for safe gun handling for "Sport Shooting" must be judiciously applied in proper contexts. CHL people and cops are certainly not expected to carry unloaded handguns, so a little common sense is applicable to "the totality of the circumstances" in regard to Rule #1 and #3. As another instructor has pointed out, note Rule #3 says "ready to use".
Rule #2. The real biggie. Trigger finger discipline is especially critical when drawing or re-holstering. While the OWB (outside waist band) holster pictured is just about as safe as modern holsters can be made, "purists" might argue that the muzzle is still pointed at the concrete, where an unintentionally discharged bullet could fragment or ricochet. However, with modern handguns, the probability of such is near zero as long as the operator follows the Redneck Version of Rule #2 and keeps the "booger hook off the bang switch until the sights are on target".
With a common form of carry for both men and women being IWB (inside waist band) and Rule #1 often being compromised, the final photo here depicts what many of us believe is the safest option when re-holstering IWB, particularly with holsters that do not have a rigid opening. Placing the loaded handgun inside the holster while pointed in the safest direction, then putting the holster into the desired position greatly reduces any chance of a finger or a piece of clothing getting inside the trigger guard. The same principle is applicable with pocket holsters. If not doing so already, more "food for thought", especially for many students and friends who opt to carry around front - with the muzzle pointed at things they are generally not willing to destroy!
With the reduction in CHL class hours last September, there are several topics in my Texas CHL lesson plan that had to be eliminated - or at least substantially abbreviated. This little "history lesson" is one of them. It may be, at the very least, "Nice to Know" info as certain issues get cussed and discussed among ourselves and in the media between now and when the Texas Legislature is in session again this time next year.
Those who became CHL holders when the law went into effect on January 1, 1996 were taught certain things about Texas Penal Code Section 30.05 in regard to "Criminal Trespass". One of those things was a warning to be watchful for any type of "No weapons" or "Gunsbuster" type of signage that might be posted in some private businesses. And that the penalties for getting caught carrying a handgun - knowingly or unknowingly - beyond one of these signs could be extremely serious.
And signs there were! Throughout 1996 and well into 1997, due primarily to the media attention of the new CHL law going into effect and irrational fears by many people, there was an epidemic of various types of "No Handguns" signage placed at the entrances of various types of private businesses, especially in major metropolitan areas. Otherwise law-abiding, "sqeaky clean" CHL holders who happened to miss seeing one of these signs were at great risk of a "Criminal Trespass with a Firearm" charge: as in Class A Misdemeanor, including "Go directly to jail, get a lawyer, pay the fees and fines, very possibly have to go back to jail and be ineligible for another CHL for at least 7 years".
As a result of some of this (and some very diligent work by NRA Board Member Charles Cotton), the 1997 Texas Legislature added Penal Code Section 30.06, specifically to protect CHL holders. The applicable (signage) portion states:
"Written communication" means: (A) a card or other document on which is written language identical to the following: "Pursuant to Section 30.06, Penal Code (trespass by holder of license to carry a concealed handgun), a person licensed under Subchapter H, Chapter 411, Government Code (concealed handgun law), may not enter this property with a concealed handgun"; or (B) a sign posted on the property that: (i) includes the language described by Paragraph (A) in both English and Spanish; (ii) appears in contrasting colors with block letters at least one inch in height; and (iii) is displayed in a conspicuous manner clearly visible to the public.
On the same date this change went into effect, Section 46.035 was also amended to read
(i) Subsections (b)(4), (b)(5), (b)(6), and (c) do not apply if the actor was not given effective notice under Section 30.06.
Twenty months after the CHL law went into effect, these two changes (effective Sept. 1, 1997) were huge in that
(1) CHL holders had a very well defined sign to watch out for and an excellent defense to prosecution if ever wrongfully charged by having gone past a non-compliant sign and
(2) four of the original "prohibited locations" (including churches and amusement parks) were removed from the "no go" list (unless they give specified oral or written notice).
Below, as used in our classroom for training purposes, is an example of a "compliant" 30.06 sign.
By late 1997, many business owners or managers who had previously posted "No Handguns" signage realized the stupidity - that is was already against the law to carry without a license in a public place AND that a sign on the front door was certainly not going to deter anyone intent on aggravated robbery or murder. Many were also politely informed that such signage was making some of the most law abiding people in the state go spend their money somewhere else.
Most business owners or managers did not even know about the change in the law in regard to 30.06 signage. Of those who did, relatively few chose to spend the money to post the "big ugly signs". Besides, with "out of sight, out of mind" and the excellent reputation of Texas CHL holders, most businesses did not know or care if customers were packing,
However, in their infinite wisdom, some local anti-gun bureaucrats seized upon their knowledge of the new 30.06 signage and began to have signs placed at the entrance to locations such as the city library "to protect the children". Some school districts went so far as to post 30.06 signs at the entrances to their parking lots. The City of Dallas placed 30.06 signage at the entrances to the State Fair - which did not meet the definition of an amusement park as defined in 46.035. With such postings being in clear violation of Texas' "preemption law", the 2003 Texas Legislature amended 30.06 with the following:
(e) It is an exception to the application of this section that the property on which the license holder carries a handgun is owned or leased by a governmental entity and is not a premises or other place on which the license holder is prohibited from carrying the handgun under Section 46.03 or 46.035.
This amendment provided a "defense to prosecution" for license holders if local bureaucrats tried to wrongfully prosecute by basically saying, by State laws, the local bureaucrats did not have the authority to put up the 30.06 signs to begin with. As a result of this amendment - and hundreds of complaints from CHL holders - the 30.06 signs at Dallas' Fair Park came down. Beginning in October of 2003 CHL holders could comfortably carry into the State Fair (except to games in the Cotton Bowl).
However, all too many illegitimate 30.06 signs remained in place (and still do) in some taxpayer-funded locations, creating no small amount of confusion for (and sometimes disarming of) license holders. This resulted in House Bill 508 being introduced in the 2013 Texas Legislature. It included some severe penalties for any local bureaucrat that authorized ongoing placement of illegitimate 30.06.signage. It had great support this past session, yet died in the final hours due to Senator Dan Patrick's attempt to tack on an elitist amendment. There is a very good chance that a similar bill will be introduced again in 2015.
Speaking of the 2015 legislative session, we will likely be seeing at least one bill introduced again related to "Open Carry", which is quite controversial - and possibly the topic of another post one of these days.
In conclusion for now as it relates to the 30.06 signage: Currently, in the locations where many of us go on a daily basis, there are just not all that many 30.06 signs. What many of us fear is that if any "Open Carry" legislation happens to get passed and is not very carefully worded in regard to signage (as in NOT tied to the current 30.06 verbiage), it could result in just enough "Man with a Gun" calls to 911 to create an epidemic of wasted police resources, business owners and managers not wanting any more "panic attacks" in their buildings or parking lots and a rash of new 30.06 signs going up at thousands of locations where there are none present today.
Those who have taken our Texas CHL class may recall being shown laminated examples of the two "standard" Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission signs: the RED and black lettered 51% sign and the BLUE and black lettered "unlicensed possession" sign. The sign with "51%" in red letters is normally a definite "no go" (at least while carrying) as it is intended to designate the establishment derives 51% or more of its revenue from alcohol related products for on-site consumption.
Confusion is created all too frequently when businesses post incorrect signage. As examples, in Flower Mound alone, I have seen a 51% sign posted at a convenience store on 2499 as well as the semi-new Fuzzy's west of Marcus High School. This may simply be the result of the business receiving a packet of signage from TABC when they receive their liquor license and some uninformed employee putting up the wrong one - or putting up both, not knowing any better!
In any event, if you see a 51% sign posted in a questionable location, do not hesitate to "drop a dime" on them at 940-349-2877 (or http://www.tabc.state.tx.us/contact_us/counties/Collin.asp). TABC will generally send out an agent to investigate and the proper sign will likely be in place shortly. ;-)
What we don't want to mention to the business or to TABC is the 30.06 sign, which may be a topic for next time.