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Star-Telegram - Should open carry be allowed in Texas?

Texas is one of just six states, along with the District of Columbia, that doesn't permit citizens to openly display a legally registered handgun. On that issue, Texas finds itself in the company of states including California, New York and Illinois, even as Texas has loose restrictions around the sale, licensing and registration of firearms.  Effective September 1, 2007 a person who can legally possess a firearm may possess or carry a handgun in motor vehicle (including a recreational vehicle with living quarters) and watercraft that is owned by or under the lawful control of the person. However, the firearm must be concealed, the person may not be engaged in criminal activity, and also may not be a member of “Criminal Street Gang.” The person may also carry the firearm to and from his vehicle without a license. (See Texas Penal Code 46.02 (a). However, DPS recommends that you seek the advice of an attorney with any questions regarding the unlicensed carrying of firearms.  On March 27, 2007, Governor Rick Perry signed Senate Bill 378 into law, making Texas a "Castle Doctrine" state which came into effect September 1, 2007. Residents lawfully occupying a dwelling may use deadly force against a person who "unlawfully, and with force, enters or attempts to enter the dwelling", or who unlawfully and with force removes or attempts to remove someone from that dwelling, or who commits or attempts to commit a "qualifying" felony such as "aggravated kidnapping, murder, sexual assault, aggravated sexual assault, robbery, or aggravated robbery" (TPC 9.32(b)).  Senate Bill 378 also contains a "Stand Your Ground" clause; a person who has a legal right to be wherever he/she is at the time of a defensive shooting has no "duty to retreat" before being justified in shooting. The "trier of fact" (the jury in a jury trial, otherwise the judge) may not consider whether the person retreated when deciding whether the person was justified in shooting (TPC 9.32(c, d)).  In addition, two statutes of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code protect people who justifiably threaten or use deadly force. Chapter 86 prohibits a person convicted of a misdemeanor or felony from filing suit to recover any damages suffered as a result of the criminal act or any justifiable action taken by others to prevent it or to apprehend the person.  Chapter 83 of the same code states that a person who used force or deadly force that is justified under TPC Chapter 9 may not be sued for personal injury or death of the individual against whom the force was used.


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