Those who became CHL holders when the law went into effect on January 1, 1996 were taught certain things about Texas Penal Code Section 30.05 in regard to "Criminal Trespass". One of those things was a warning to be watchful for any type of "No weapons" or "Gunsbuster" type of signage that might be posted in some private businesses. And that the penalties for getting caught carrying a handgun - knowingly or unknowingly - beyond one of these signs could be extremely serious.
And signs there were! Throughout 1996 and well into 1997, due primarily to the media attention of the new CHL law going into effect and irrational fears by many people, there was an epidemic of various types of "No Handguns" signage placed at the entrances of various types of private businesses, especially in major metropolitan areas. Otherwise law-abiding, "sqeaky clean" CHL holders who happened to miss seeing one of these signs were at great risk of a "Criminal Trespass with a Firearm" charge: as in Class A Misdemeanor, including "Go directly to jail, get a lawyer, pay the fees and fines, very possibly have to go back to jail and be ineligible for another CHL for at least 7 years".
As a result of some of this (and some very diligent work by NRA Board Member Charles Cotton), the 1997 Texas Legislature added Penal Code Section 30.06, specifically to protect CHL holders. The applicable (signage) portion states:
"Written communication" means: (A) a card or other document on which is written language identical to the following: "Pursuant to Section 30.06, Penal Code (trespass by holder of license to carry a concealed handgun), a person licensed under Subchapter H, Chapter 411, Government Code (concealed handgun law), may not enter this property with a concealed handgun"; or (B) a sign posted on the property that: (i) includes the language described by Paragraph (A) in both English and Spanish; (ii) appears in contrasting colors with block letters at least one inch in height; and (iii) is displayed in a conspicuous manner clearly visible to the public.
On the same date this change went into effect, Section 46.035 was also amended to read
(i) Subsections (b)(4), (b)(5), (b)(6), and (c) do not apply if the actor was not given effective notice under Section 30.06.
Twenty months after the CHL law went into effect, these two changes (effective Sept. 1, 1997) were huge in that
(1) CHL holders had a very well defined sign to watch out for and an excellent defense to prosecution if ever wrongfully charged by having gone past a non-compliant sign and
(2) four of the original "prohibited locations" (including churches and amusement parks) were removed from the "no go" list (unless they give specified oral or written notice).
Below, as used in our classroom for training purposes, is an example of a "compliant" 30.06 sign.
Most business owners or managers did not even know about the change in the law in regard to 30.06 signage. Of those who did, relatively few chose to spend the money to post the "big ugly signs". Besides, with "out of sight, out of mind" and the excellent reputation of Texas CHL holders, most businesses did not know or care if customers were packing,
However, in their infinite wisdom, some local anti-gun bureaucrats seized upon their knowledge of the new 30.06 signage and began to have signs placed at the entrance to locations such as the city library "to protect the children". Some school districts went so far as to post 30.06 signs at the entrances to their parking lots. The City of Dallas placed 30.06 signage at the entrances to the State Fair - which did not meet the definition of an amusement park as defined in 46.035. With such postings being in clear violation of Texas' "preemption law", the 2003 Texas Legislature amended 30.06 with the following:
(e) It is an exception to the application of this section that the property on which the license holder carries a handgun is owned or leased by a governmental entity and is not a premises or other place on which the license holder is prohibited from carrying the handgun under Section 46.03 or 46.035.
This amendment provided a "defense to prosecution" for license holders if local bureaucrats tried to wrongfully prosecute by basically saying, by State laws, the local bureaucrats did not have the authority to put up the 30.06 signs to begin with. As a result of this amendment - and hundreds of complaints from CHL holders - the 30.06 signs at Dallas' Fair Park came down. Beginning in October of 2003 CHL holders could comfortably carry into the State Fair (except to games in the Cotton Bowl).
However, all too many illegitimate 30.06 signs remained in place (and still do) in some taxpayer-funded locations, creating no small amount of confusion for (and sometimes disarming of) license holders. This resulted in House Bill 508 being introduced in the 2013 Texas Legislature. It included some severe penalties for any local bureaucrat that authorized ongoing placement of illegitimate 30.06.signage. It had great support this past session, yet died in the final hours due to Senator Dan Patrick's attempt to tack on an elitist amendment. There is a very good chance that a similar bill will be introduced again in 2015.
Speaking of the 2015 legislative session, we will likely be seeing at least one bill introduced again related to "Open Carry", which is quite controversial - and possibly the topic of another post one of these days.
In conclusion for now as it relates to the 30.06 signage: Currently, in the locations where many of us go on a daily basis, there are just not all that many 30.06 signs. What many of us fear is that if any "Open Carry" legislation happens to get passed and is not very carefully worded in regard to signage (as in NOT tied to the current 30.06 verbiage), it could result in just enough "Man with a Gun" calls to 911 to create an epidemic of wasted police resources, business owners and managers not wanting any more "panic attacks" in their buildings or parking lots and a rash of new 30.06 signs going up at thousands of locations where there are none present today.