Guns and School Zones: What You Need to Know | Texas

The following is a video transcript.

School is back in session, and you’re getting ready to drop your kids off for their first day. You drop off the older kids, park your car, and head inside the school building to walk your youngest to his new classroom. Having carried your handgun all summer, you forget that it’s still in your belt holster when you enter the school building. Have you committed a crime by carrying inside the school?

HAVE YOU COMMITTED A CRIME?

The short answer to this question is yes. It’s a crime to possess a firearm on or in the premises of a school, as well as on any grounds and buildings where a school-sponsored activity is taking place, unless it’s done and pursuant to written regulations or written authorization of the institution.

In our scenario, the second you walk into the school building with your firearm, you’re committing a serious felony offense.

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PREMISES AND PARKING LOTS

But is the law different when it comes to parking lots? Yes. Texas defines premises as a building or a portion of a building, but it doesn’t include a street, sidewalk, walkway, parking lot, parking garage or other parking areas. Generally speaking, LTC holders may keep their concealed handguns in a locked vehicle in school parking areas. Which leads us to another question we’re often asked: What about schools located within or on the grounds of a church or other place of religious worship?

MIXED-USE PREMISES

Texas law allows LTC holders to carry their handguns into churches, synagogues, and other places of religious worship, unless effective 30.06 or 30.07 notice is provided. However, when the church also houses a school, the law becomes a bit murky.

In Texas these places are referred to as mixed-use premises, and whether you’re allowed to carry will depend on the legal classification of the particular mixed-use premises. If the church with a school is not owned by a state or independent school district, follow these general guidelines:

  • If the mixed-use premises is being used as a school, you cannot carry.
  • If the mixed-use premises is being used as a church, you may carry so long as the premises is NOT considered a school building and there is no notice prohibiting the carry of firearms.

The legal classification of mixed-use premises can be tricky. To be safe, obtain written authorization from the institution regarding when and where you can carry before you do, if at all.

DAYCARE FACILITIES AND AFTER-SCHOOL PROGRAMS

What about daycare facilities or after school programs? A daycare in Texas is not considered an outright prohibited place, but they are generally required to post notice prohibiting the carry of firearms. This means that if you carry into a daycare facility it may be considered a trespass. The same rule applies to after-school programs. However, if the daycare or after-school program is located within a school or is regarded as a school-sponsored activity, carrying the firearm would be absolutely prohibited.

FEDERAL LAW AND GUN-FREE SCHOOL ZONES

And this brings us to federal law. Isn’t there a prohibition about carrying in a Gun-Free School Zone? The Federal Gun-Free School Zones law prohibits individuals from knowingly possessing a firearm that has moved through interstate commerce (which is virtually all firearms) in or on the grounds or within 1,000 feet of a public, parochial, or private school, unless an exception applies. The most common exceptions to the Federal Gun-Free School Zones laws in Texas are:

  • Living within 1,000 feet of a school, so long as the person is not prohibited from possessing a firearm on their private property;
  • Being a Texas LTC holder. Note this does not apply to Texas residents who hold a non-resident license or handgun permit from another state; or
  • Carrying a firearm that is securely locked. This is a firearm that is unloaded and carried in a locked case or other type of locked container, such as a glove box or trunk.

We hope you found this information helpful and wish you a safe start to the school year. For any questions concerning carrying in the areas we’ve discussed, call Texas LawShield and ask to speak to your Independent Program Attorney.

 

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Comment section

7 comments on “Guns and School Zones: What You Need to Know | Texas

  1. First, I don’t know if this is true. I was TOLD a young person did not show up for an appointment because:

    His truck STALLED on public street in a school zone. He had a rifle in the truck. He was arrested and taken in “for having the weapon on school grounds”. Now, this is hearsay, … but it is what I was told by his young friend when I inquired as to why he did not make it to the appointment. This happened in Waco, TX

  2. Wow. The laws can be so…so…confusing and sometimes contradictory. You either have to be an attorney or have a good attorney to help you avoid making an honest mistake. Murky? I’d say they are more like “sticky”. Get a book on Texas Gun Law and study it carefully. An honest mistake can cost you years in prison if you are not careful.

  3. What about federal parking lots at the post office? Can you just leave your gun in the glovebox?

  4. So on another but similar subject I travel for work and my company books accomadations I arrive and get presented with a 30.06/30.07 sign apon arrival and sometimes in a area of a school what should I do ? I do not like the option of leaving a weapon in my truck being that it has been broken into several times?

  5. I agree with your concern about having a firearm in the truck. My truck has been broken into as well. I would not want another person to ever keep and use a firearm that I am responsible for. Several companies make products that would allow you to safely and securely store your firearm in your truck. They are reliable and very secure. Plus some vehicles can be outfitted with permanent locking compartments in them. Usually configures in your console area.

  6. This is good information, makes me wonder if a school is setback on one side of the road and I have to drive through it to get home is that an infraction?

  7. Hey folks!

    Let’s not fall into the old “I didn’t know or understand” excuse. WE have the obligation to KNOW what we can and can’t do. It’s part of the package and, we should study carefully the laws in reciprocating states too. If you don’t know..don’t go! They have generally same thoughts but will get you if you don’t study. Not their fault is it?

    I carry everywhere I can legally do so including airplane trips with proper TSA met. I’ve never had a problem with doing this. I do have to seriously consider whether I NEED to go to a State that is in the dark ages.

    So,as gently as I can say it, there are NO excuses. It’s on us to adhere to and keep the “privilege” of what the 2nd Amendment gives the right to us.

    God bless Texas and
    God bless America!

    It’s an awesomely serious responsibility

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