Wednesday, August 31, 2011

So Much Mis-Information And Confusion

There are two new laws concerning guns in personal vehicles due to take effect here in Texas tomorrow morning, Sept 1.

One makes explicit that anyone eligible to own a firearm may keep the weapon in a personal vehicle "out of plain sight", though with certain restrictions - not on federal property, not on state property used by the courts or prisons, not on schools and hospitals or private property as declared by the owner all being examples. This law replaces an old law that allowed Texans to keep a gun in their vehicle while "traveling" - the definition of which said law notoriously left decidedly vague. This resulted in numerous definitions being enforced in different jurisdictions within the state, but always allowed for property owners (to include businesses) to exclude personal firearms from their property at their discretion. The "traveling" stipulation has been removed and how the gun(s) may be carried within the vehicle clarified, but the exclusionary option remains in place going forward from tomorrow's date.

There is a second law taking effect tomorrow as well. This law (search: Texas Senate Bill 321) specifically identifies concealed handgun licenee's as being granted a limited authorisation to keep handguns (no mention is made of long guns in the act) "locked up" in their private vehicles within their employers parking lot irrespective of said employer's established policy regarding such*. Once again, this law specifies concealed handgun licenced employees as being the only employees subject to this act (there is some disagreement between Texas lawyers and the NRA's as to whether or not this act also extends to employees who lack a CHL ... my lawyers predict this point of distinction will go to the courts for resolution). There are enumerated classifications of business excluded from this act as well as specific requirements of compliance that employees with CHL's must conform to, prominent among these being that the weapon remain inside the vehicle at all times while on company parking areas and, again, stored "out of plain sight". Pertinent here, I think, is that Texas requires that concealed handguns be concealed from ordinary view by the concealing mechanism/clothing worn in the ordinary way, with no mention of "printing", and that "inadvertent exposure" is recognised as not violating the concealed stipulation of the law. Keeping this in mind (with the acknowledgement that there is no case law regarding any of this in the parking lot example), the informed opinion is that exposing the gun to someone else's sight while transferring it from a holster to another method of storage is allowed as being inadvertent so long as the gun never leaves the confines of the employee's private vehicle while the vehicle is in the company's parking lot.

There seems to be a common belief that these two laws are actually one and that the CHL requirement of the parking lot law doesn't apply because ... well, frankly, I'm not sure why it doesn't apply really. I've had several other employees with whom I work argue that "That's not true" or that "it's a constitutional right". I don't know. Added to that is the lack of specificity regarding the excluded businesses. As only one example, my employer uses a flammable gas as part of the manufacturing process of our product. Does this qualify for the exemption regarding having explosive liquids/gases as the primary purpose of the business? Does this particular exemption also rule out the common gas station as well? Don't know yet.

One thing I do know is that it seems to be the habit of the Texas legislature to write laws in such a manner as to permit the courts to define the specifics of application. Another thing I know is that I intend to be very circumspect as to how I go about my lawful activities for the immediate future. And that's all I have to say about that.

*The analogy I've settled on to describe this is a poker based example; the legislature wasn't willing to go "all in" on this first deal of this particular law, so they limited the number of citizens as well as the types of business participating. The "risk" is confined to people who have passed a criminal background investigation and who, as a class, have a documented history of compliance with the law generally and excludes companies with an obvious-seeming threat of potential mass disaster resulting from a firearms discharge in close proximity to the businesses facilities.

Friday, August 5, 2011

That's The Thing About "Target Rich Environments"

In the real world, the targets aren't static.

Or even especially obvious before the fact.