31 Days, 31 Ways: Guns Allowed in Vehicles at Work

DAY 16 of our month-long series on the effects of new state laws and budget cuts: Gun owners in Texas will not have to leave their weapons at home while they are at work anymore.

31 Days 31 Ways


Throughout the month of August, The Texas Tribune will feature 31 ways Texans' lives will change come Sept. 1, the date most bills passed by the Legislature — including the dramatically reduced budget — take effect. Check out our story calendar here

Day 16: Gun owners can bring their weapons to work in their cars.

Hunters in a hurry to leave for a weekend outing won't have to worry about storing their rifles in their cars at the office anymore. And commuters will be able to pack heat for protection without wondering what the boss thinks.

Under a new law that takes effect Sept. 1, most employers will not be able to prohibit workers who legally own guns and ammunition from storing them in their vehicles on a company parking lot during business hours.

The few exceptions to the measure — Senate Bill 321 by state Sen. Glenn Hegar, R-Katy — include public and private schools and lands that contain oil, gas and mineral leases. Certain properties where firearms are already outlawed, such as federal buildings, are also exempted from the law, as are company vehicles owned or leased by the employer.

Gun owners hailed SB 321 as a victory for Texans who want to protect themselves during their daily commutes to work.

“This is not the safe-parking lot bill. This is the safe-commuter bill,” said Alice Tripp, the legislative director for the Texas State Rifle Association, the state’s lobbying arm of the National Rifle Association.

The law was first introduced seven years ago by former state Rep. Dan Farabee, D-Wichita Falls, after several Texans were fired for stowing their hunting rifles in their vehicles. They had planned to leave for a hunting trip in Oklahoma immediately after work, Tripp said.

She also rejected the concern of some critics that Texans would have impromptu gun shows and shooting lessons on employer property after work.

“The protection for the employee does not extend beyond the vehicle. There is no ‘show and tell,'” she said. Just in case an incident occurs, though, the bill provides immunity to an employer, “except in cases of gross negligence” should an accident happen that causes injury, death or property damage.

 

Web resources:

The Texas State Rifle Association

Texas Legislature Online (with bill analysis and text)

Texas Department of Public Safety Concealed Handgun Program

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