As San Antonian’s, we are intensely protective of our rights. The right to speak, worship, and live when and where we want is important to each of us. One rights issue that might set off the simmering tinderbox on which it rests revolves around the 2nd Amendment of our United States Constitution.
In the summer of 2015, the Texas State Legislature passed a sweeping new law that significantly broadened our already permissive concealed carry laws. Starting in the first week of January, citizens of Texas who already possess a CCL license will now be able to openly carry their handguns (in hip or shoulder holsters) most anywhere in the state, including parks, civic buildings, and private businesses. In August of 2016, the law will also allow for open carry of weapons on public university campuses, in certain areas.
Rights are a tricky thing, however. Written into the law are protections for the rights of private business owners to deny entry to their premises anyone who is openly displaying a weapon. Representative Diego Bernal (D-123) explains how concealed carry was never really an issue. “Most people are O.K. with concealed carry, but open carry goes too far in their opinion,” Bernal said.
To assist local San Antonio businesses who have not received clear direction on how to assert their right to prohibit weapons on their premises, Bernal has produced the required signage that must be displayed at all entrances into a local business. Signage is required to be displayed in both English and Spanish and he lettering must be 1-inch in height. “The size of the font is really unfortunate if you’re a small mom and pop business because they’re large and ugly,” Bernal said.
“What is interesting to us is people have called for the signs but they also are calling because they are saying, ‘We don’t know how this works. We don’t know what this means.’ The state is offering no guidance and no blueprint (for the small businesses),” Bernal said. “They passed a law and they said, ‘You guys deal with it,’ which is wildly irresponsible.”
While it is no secret that Rep. Bernal was opposed to the new laws, his assertion that the rights of local business owners must be as protected as a citizen’s right to open carry has merit. As the new laws are taking effect, if you have any questions about how to protect your business and its rights, don’t hesitate to reach out to the expert team at Wilson Brown PLLC. We have over 20 years experience working with local San Antonio business owners across any and all legal issues they might face. Seek the trusted advice of Wilson Brown when you and your business are affected by new state laws.