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Texas Motorist Protection Act

In 2009 the Texas legislature passed HB 1815, also known as The Motorist Protection Act (MPA). The bill affects the Penal Code, allowing citizens to carry a handgun "inside of or directly en route to a motor vehicle that is owned by the person or under the person's control", providing:

  • the handgun remains concealed

  • the person is not engaged in criminal activity, other than a Class C misdemeanor that is a violation of a law or ordinance regulating traffic

  • the person is not prohibited by law from possessing a firearm

  • the person is not a member of a criminal street gang

Prior to the passage of this bill it was illegal to have a handgun in your car unless you were traveling or directly en route to a location for hunting or a shooting sports event. The definition of "traveling" was never clearly spelled out and was determined by case law. All this means that a citizen that meets the above four exemptions and is not licensed to carry a concealed handgun can keep a loaded handgun in their vehicle, but there are a few things that you should consider.

Lock it up!

First, secure your gun when leaving your vehicle. You can't take it with you unless licensed to carry, and the glove box or console isn't enough to keep it from being stolen should your car be broken into. Install a small safe or lock box that bolts to the floor or locks with a chain or cable to the seat or body of the vehicle somehow. Make it as difficult to walk away with as you possibly can. Don't put guns into the hands of criminals.

Keep it out of sight!

When driving you can keep it at the ready, but be smart about it. Don't put it in the glove box on top of your insurance card, in case you are stopped by the police for a traffic violation. The officer probably won't have much of a sense of humor about an incident like that. Don't take it to the full service car wash, where an attendant may find it while detailing the interior of your car. It shouldn't be seen by anyone, anywhere. If someone sees it you may be reported to the police, or worse.

Federal property!

Any federally-owned property such as the post office (including the parking lot) is off-limits. Certain state parks in Texas are Army Corps of Engineers projects and therefore Federal land, and off-limits. You are not violating any state laws here, but Federal law applies. Do your homework and know before you get there.

Employer parking lots!

If your employer has a "no weapons" policy prohibiting you from having a weapon in your car while in the parking lot you could be fired if you get caught, but it may even be enforceable by state or federal law depending on where you work. Again, do your own research and know for sure what you're doing.

Police interaction!

Just remember, that as long as you meet the four exemptions listed above you aren't doing anything wrong. Don't be nervous. Be polite, and follow the officer's instructions. You are not required to notify the officer that you have a weapon in your vehicle, unless you are licensed to carry it. Don't blurt out "I have a gun in the car!"

I strongly urge anyone who can legally and responsibly carry a handgun for their own protection apply for a Concealed Handgun License and do so. But until you take that step, the MPA allows you to protect yourself in your vehicle as if you were in your own home. Be smart and use common sense.

©2011 Safety-On Firearms Training

Where can I carry?

  • Racetracks (Anywhere that Para-mutual betting is taking place)

  • Anyplace where either Amateur or Professional sporting events are being held.

  • Courthouses or any building that has a courthouse in it.

  • Any business that derives 51% or more of its business from the sale of alcohol for on premises consumption, i.e. Bars

  • Federal property, to include the Post Office.

  • Anywhere the 30.06 or 30.07 sign is properly posted (at least 1 inch block lettering in contrasting colors with this exact verbiage, approximately 3x2 ft in size) at every common entryway. Or if someone with the authority to do so (manager) gives verbal warning that the carrying of a Concealed Handgun or Open Carry Handgun is not allowed.

  • On the "premises" of a school, school activity, or transportation by a school. In other words not inside the building of a school or during a school activity like a football game.

  • (for school premises See Attorney General's opinion on this).

  • The secured area of an airport.

  • Anywhere voting is taking place.

  • On the "premises" of a correctional facility.

The following places are restricted if the 30.06 or 30.07 sign is posted, in which case it is a Class A misdemeanor offense

  • On the "premises" of a; hospital, nursing home, amusement park, carnival, church, synagogue, or any other place of worship.

  • At the meeting of a governmental entity.

Senate Bill 501 has removed the right of any city or county government to place a 30.06 or 30.07 sign on any building owned or leased by that government therefore not restricting the carrying of a handgun by a LTC holder.