Concealed Handgun Permit ApplicationHow do subjective decisions of government officials, when it comes to issuing any kind of permit, affect private citizens?

What are the risks of making any sort of “ownership database” publicly accessible?

Setting aside the emotional pros and cons of gun control, consider how the issuing of a concealed carry permit affects private citizens, or the potential risks involved in a publicly accessible gun ownership database.

California: No permit. No gun.

Carrying a loaded firearm in California public areas of incorporated and certain unincorporated areas without a concealed carry permit is illegal.

A concealed weapon permit applicant must:

  • Live in the city or county
  • Be of “good moral character”
  • Have “good cause” for the license

Five San Diego residents sued the county sheriff after their applications were rejected due to lack of a “good cause” for a concealed carry permit. A three-judge panel found the permitting process unconstitutional, but the process was ultimately upheld as constitutional when reheard by the full 9th Circuit panel.

Complaining of a near-total refusal of some counties to issue carry permits due to lack of “good cause,” the plaintiffs noted that permits are only granted for very rare and specific circumstances. For example, only 138 women within San Diego County’s 3.1 million population have a Concealed Carry Weapon.

This brings to question, what is “good cause?” Who decides? What is the objective criteria? Is there an appeal? Can the result of a subjective process effectively create a ban?

Hawaii: Gun owners, who has access to your data?

Owners of Hawaii firearms required to register with their county police departments will now be enrolled in the FBI “Rap Back” system, a criminal record monitoring service. New legislation allows county police departments in Hawaii to evaluate whether or not the firearm owner may continue to legally possess and own firearms after notification of the owner’s arrest for a criminal offense anywhere in the country. The law also authorizes the Hawaii Criminal Justice Data Center to access firearm registration data.

What should be the objective criteria for maintaining any database containing a list of private citizens? What are the practical implications of making such a list available to the public?

Tilting the Scales in Your Favor.

The regulatory legislation placed on gun owners is interesting to consider, when applied to less emotionally charged topics:

Would there be push back if American Airlines was required to report to law enforcement those who flew to Las Vegas more than every 30 days?

What about having to permit your cell phone with GPS service that could not be disabled?

If there is any conduct requiring a permit or license—health, barber, medical, law, pilot or otherwise—what is the risk to private citizens if the permitting authority has the subjective authority to assess “good cause” or “good moral character”? Are there other permits or regulatory authorizations that can be denied for failure of the applicant to satisfy a governmental official that there is “good cause” for the permit?

Will this Legislative Session impact business owners? With the assistance of our own LRM Freshman State Rep. Jeff Leach, R-Plano, Tilting the Scales will periodically post updates on bills that might affect your business, along with an occasional humorous twist.

As an example and keeping in the tone of this month’s postings on gun control, as the federal government moves forward on its plans to tighten gun restrictions, Texas lawmakers are proposing legislation to expand gun rights in the state. The latest proposal is HB 700, a so-called “open carry” bill filed last week by State Rep. George Lavender, R-Texarkana, to allow individuals with concealed handgun licenses to carry weapons in plain view on a belt or shoulder holster. Similar legislation failed last session. Other recent proposed policy changes include allowing concealed handguns on college campuses, and arming and training school officials, including teachers.

More summaries to come as we continue through this legislative session.

Assult RifleAttendees at the midnight showing of the remake of the movie “Paladin – the Gentleman Black Knight” were ambushed at the Orpheum Theater. According to news reports the accused bought a ticket and sat in the audience. He waited until after the movie started and then stepped out where he donned riot gear and re-entered the theater, tossed two gas canisters and began shooting into the crowd.  Subsequent investigation suggested insufficient security for anticipated crowds and a lack of alarm system controls on the emergency exit. Is the business owner liable to its customers who were injured in the shooting?

Owner Liability Issues to Customers

Probably not the customers (employees – a different story – will be addressed next month). While a business owners must take reasonable steps to protect visitors coming onto the property or people coming to do business in their store, for victims successfully to recover compensation they must show that past violent incidents reasonably caused the mass shooting at that particular theatre to be foreseeable. The Orpheum responded to its patrons’ lawsuits seeking a dismissal and argued, “It would be patently unfair, and legally unsound, to impose on the Orpheum… the duty and burden to have foreseen and prevented the criminal equivalent of a meteor falling from the sky.” There was no history of similar events to argue a pattern. There was no communication of a threat. The theater would likely be successful in arguing it could not have reasonably foreseen that a deranged gunman would shoot up the theater because it is no more at risk for a mass shooting than any other venue hosting a large crowd of people. Hiring armed security guards over and above the presence of routine local law enforcement patrols is not an ordinary and customary procedure for suburban movie theaters in relatively low-risk areas.

A pattern of criminal problems, such as repeated robberies at the business or assaults in the parking lot, are generally required for courts to hold businesses liable for a crime on their premises.

Tilting the Scales in Your Favor

Insurance. Up to forty percent of businesses affected by a natural or human-caused disaster never reopen. If this happened at your business, could your business survive? Evaluate your commercial property and business interruption policies as well as reputational and crisis management coverage. For most businesses, the brunt of the insurance response will likely fall under commercial general liability coverage because there is no exclusion for random acts of violence or mass events. You may wish, however, to consider public liability insurance. Because of their high-severity and low-frequency nature, insurance for public liability occurrences is designed to protect from incidents on the premises those public venues and other businesses that frequently bring large crowds – a shooting, a structure collapse, an explosion, a terrorist act. Talk to your insurance agent, and review your existing general liability insurance policies.

Reasonable Precautions. The Department of Homeland Security created a checklist of measures recommended to create a business preparedness program. Generally, those measures are summarized as organize, develop and administer a preparedness program, identify the hazards and assess the risks. Then, implement the plan and address the emergency response, crisis communications, employee assistance and training. Annually test and evaluate the plan using a variety of exercises and scenarios.

SEE ALSO:

CHL in TexasSam Colt lives in Dallas and is a gun enthusiast.  As a result of a rash of car jackings in his neighborhood, Colt regularly carries a Glock 9mm in his vehicle for self-protection, although he does not have a concealed handgun license.  Driving to his local bank last week, Colt tosses his gun into the passenger seat so that he has easy access to it in the event of an emergency and to dissuade any anyone with bad intent.  Unfortunately, Colt gets stopped for speeding and the officer sees the gun.  Is Colt in trouble?   

Carrying a Gun in the Car

Yes.  Pursuant to the 2009 Texas Motorist Protection Act, Colt does not need a concealed handgun license to carry a handgun in his car.  However, the weapon must be concealed and Colt may not otherwise be:  (1) engaged in committing a crime; (2) prohibited from carrying a weapon; or (3) a member of a gang.  Colt’s violation would be classified as a Class A misdemeanor (the most serious level of misdemeanor) and would be punishable by a fine of $4,000 or less and/or jail time up to a year.  Interestingly, if Colt instead chose to carry a rifle/shotgun in his car, that weapon need not be concealed.

Where Concealled Carry is Prohibited

Now, assume for the moment that Colt has a concealed handgun license.  Could he bring his concealed weapon into his local bank?  Probably.  While the Texas Penal Code specifies many places that one cannot bring a concealed handgun, a bank is not one of them unless the bank has elected to post a sign forbidding concealed carry on the premises.  Types of places where concealed carry is prohibited include, among others:

  • Schools or on school buses;
  • Polling places;
  • Courts and court offices;
  • Locations where high school, college or professional sporting events are taking place;
  • Nursing homes;
  • Amusement parks;
  • Places of worship;
  • Government meetings;
  • Anywhere alcohol is sold if 51% or more of their revenue is from the sale of alcohol;
  • Secured airport areas;
  • Within 1,000 feet of the premises of an execution on the day of execution; and
  • Businesses posting signs prohibiting handguns on their premises based on criminal trespass laws.

Tilting the Scales in Your Favor

The best rule of thumb for those who do not have a concealed handgun license is to always transport your gun in its case in the back of your car.  If you are keeping the gun in your car for safety reasons, then store it in the glove box or under your car seat. 

SEE ALSO:

Paige Turner works at a small bookstore in El Paso, Texas directly on the U.S./Mexico border. As a result of a string of armed robberies in the same shopping center, Paige wants to carry a handgun while at work. After weeks of research, Paige finally settles on a Glock 9 mm, attends a concealed handgun class, and becomes licensed to carry (a CHL license). Thereafter, she brings the gun to work where she keeps it in her purse. One day at lunch, Paige mentions to her boss, Rita Booke, that she is armed and not afraid to use the gun should the opportunity present itself. Rita, who is terrified of guns, tells Paige that “guns are scary” and that Paige is not permitted to bring the gun to work, despite the fact that she has a CHL. Must Paige comply?

Yes. With proper licensing, a person may carry a handgun so long as it remains concealed. As you might imagine, there are a number of common sense places where the legislature has stated you may not bring your gun. These include, among others, a government court, a bar (a business that derives more than 51% of its income from the alcohol sales), a school, a place of religious worship, a polling place or a secured area of an airport. While license holders are free to carry almost anywhere else, Section 411.203 of the Texas Government Code maintains that a CHL does not prevent or limit the right of a public or private employer from prohibiting CHL’s from carrying a handgun on the premises of the business. Accordingly, Rita’s request must be honored.

Tilting the Scales in Your Favor:

Employers who wish to prohibit firearms at their place of business must take into account both their employees and customers. Employees can be advised of the prohibition through an employee handbook. To prohibit customers from bringing firearms into your business, state law requires owners to post a sign that says: “Pursuant to Section 30.06, Penal Code (trespass by holder of a 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.” The sign must be written in both English and Spanish in contrasting block letters at least one inch in height, and must be displayed in a conspicuous manner, clearly visible to the public.

More on Texas Guns:

There is neither a waiting period (under normal situations) nor a state registration program relating to the purchase of firearms in Texas. Effective September 1, 2007, a person need not have a CHL to carry a handgun in a motor vehicle (including a recreational vehicle with living quarters). However, the firearm must be concealed, the person may not be engaged in criminal activity, and may not be a member of a “criminal street gang.” The person may also carry the handgun to and from his vehicle without a license.