AUSTIN: Texans may no longer need a license and associated background check to pack their guns in public, but gun owners can wait for them to be examined by law enforcement before entering the Capitol of the state.
The control of those who carry unlicensed weapons belongs to a policy that was quietly implemented on September 1: the day the law came into force. Anyone driving without a permit must register at the west entrance of the Capitol, “where they will be properly controlled” by state agents, the Texas Department of Public Safety said. The Dallas Morning News.
Gun instructor Michael Cargill entered the building’s west entrance Tuesday. When he told the soldiers he was carrying without permission, Cargill said he had been asked for identification. A soldier made a phone call and gave someone Cargill’s driver’s license number.
About three minutes later, Cargill was allowed to enter.
Cargill reported immediately The news that the soldier was conducting a “criminal background check” to see if Cargill could be taken without permission under the new law.
“What [state officials] saying and doing are two different things, “said Cargill, owner of Central Texas Gun Works.” They think they need to watch over people before they get into this building with a gun. “
It is unclear whether a similar test is taking place in other state government buildings in Austin. DPS did not respond to requests for comment on the verification process or explain the reasoning behind it.
The new law does not require companies to allow visitors and customers to transport without permits. The law also does not prohibit state officials from denying entry to those who carry an unlicensed weapon, said attorney Richard Hayes, whose Houston firm drafted a guide to the new law for gun owners. .
Gyl Switzer, executive director of Texas Gun Sense, said the verification policy appears to provide Capitol state decision makers with a higher level of protection than other government buildings offer.
“Any other place with transportation without permission, we have no idea if people have been checked by background and if they carry it legally,” Switzer said. “There are legitimate questions as to why you and I on the street, in public, don’t have the same protection and we would support the same protection because transportation without permission is dangerous.”
Governor Greg Abbott’s office did not respond to requests for comment.
At the regular legislative session that ended in May, state lawmakers passed and Abbott signed a bill that removed the requirement to obtain a handgun license from anyone not prohibited by other state laws or federals own a weapon.
Around the Capitol, new signs appeared last week directed by those who wanted to access without access to the west entrance of the building. Visitors who do not have a transportation license must go through a metal detector and check them with a safety wand.
Some gun rights advocates are denouncing the offense.
“All law-abiding gun owners should be treated equally according to the law,” said Chris McNutt, executive director of Texas Gun Rights. “The Capitol’s new policy discriminates against those who cannot afford a license.”
Others do not bother with the verification policy.
“To the extent that DPS is tasked with protecting all legislators and visitors to the Capitol, they do not violate either the letter or the spirit of the law,” said Andi Turner, legislative director of the Texas State Rifle Association.
This is not the first time the Texas Capitol has operated under different rules than other public buildings. During the first wave of COVID-19 last spring, the Capitol and the State Governor’s Mansion remained closed to visitors after Abbott ordered the museums to reopen.
The State Capitol raises a unique legal issue in which the building hosts open government meetings, a place banned under the Unauthorized Transportation Act, said Hayes, the attorney for Walker & Taylor PLLC.
“Initially there will be some growing pains as we find out how constitutional carriers are treated at the state, county and municipal levels,” Hayes said.
The law on unlicensed transportation, which supporters call “constitutional transportation,” was long sought after in the legislature by conservatives and gun rights activists. It failed to gain strength in recent years as Democrats and gun security groups fought to facilitate the transportation of weapons after repeated gunfire, including two mass shootings in El Paso and Midland. -Odessa in 2019.
Other provisions of the Unauthorized Transportation Act include the fact that it is a felony to carry a firearm while intoxicated and to allow the records of persons previously convicted of having unlawfully carried a weapon to be extinguished. September 1st. It also allows peacekeepers to disarm a citizen anywhere. time if they believe it is necessary to protect that person, officers or others.