With the state’s new open-carry gun law going into effect Jan. 1, Texans can expect to see strictly regulated signs going up soon at places where property owners or business proprietors want to keep guns out.
The signs were a big issue when the Legislature debated the open-carry law earlier this year.
Guns on college campuses, a whole separate controversy during the legislative session and still hotly debated today, will be governed by a separate law that doesn’t go into effect until Aug. 1.
Texas Christian University was the first major campus in the state to exercise a portion of the new law allowing private colleges and universities to ban guns.
A TCU spokeswoman said the school is not required to post signs saying the campus is a gun-free zone, and it does not plan to.
Students, faculty and staff at TCU will be notified about the restrictions in their university handbooks, but how visitors to the campus will be informed about the policy has not been worked out.
For other places that want to ban guns in the new year, the law is pretty clear: They have to notify people orally, by “written communication” (like handing them a printed card) or with posted signs.
The required signs aren’t just a depiction of a gun covered by a red circle with a line through it. They’re substantial.
They must include a 40-word statement, in English and Spanish, citing the specific provision of the new law under which guns, either concealed or carried openly, may be banned.
The signs must be “in contrasting colors with block letters at least one inch in height,” and they must be “displayed in a conspicuous manner clearly visible to the public at each entrance to the property.”
Failure to obey the signs or other notices is a serious matter.
Bringing a gun on a property where signs are posted will be considered a Class C misdemeanor punishable with a fine of up to $200.
Someone with a gun who is told to leave and doesn’t could be charged with a Class A misdemeanor, fined up to $4,000 and sentenced to a year in county jail.
It’s understandable that TCU doesn’t want to post signs unless it has to. Guns will be banned across the entire campus, which has a virtually unlimited number of entrance points.
Nobody wants to see this beautiful campus wrapped in no-guns signs.
Still, a lot of people who are not students, faculty or staff are welcomed on the campus every day. In a new gun-toting environment, there must be a way to notify TCU visitors they can’t bring guns.