The best thing about slaving over a hot laptop for TTAG is the instant gratification I get from the TTAGencia, when they respond to my posts. Seriously. In what other media do you get that kind of feedback. Of course, it’s not all roses and champagne – you guys are ready willing and able to take me to task for any points I’ve mangled, overlooked, or just outright gotten wrong. To that end, I read the comments on my 10 Things You Never Thought Through about Concealed Carry with interest. Reading several of the comments, it made me realize that I’d missed a huge point, ironically the very one that got me to thinking about the topic to begin with. (Note to self: Might be a good idea to jot down ideas when they are fresh, rather than relying on memory when you get around to writing a story.) To wit:
11. You Need to Have A Plan to Deal With Places Where You Can’t Carry.
Martin and Patrick pointed out that their employers have rules forbidding guns in their workplaces, even including their parking lots, with the guns secured in their vehicles. [Note: Given that your car is your private property, how is it they have the right to search your vehicle to determine if you’re packin’? I’d think that this would be a perfect place for the application of some “Don’t ask/Don’t Tell” jurisprudence. Just sayin’.] There are plenty of places you may not be able to carry, even if your employer is a wee bit more enlightened.
In the Lone Star State, we have a law (referred to as the 30.06 law – I’m NOT making this up, because it happened to be section 30.06 in the bill’s code) that covers where restricted carry is legal/illegal. It comes down to this. You can’t carry on the grounds of a school, a hospital, or a business that earns 51% or more of their income from alcohol sales (a ‘bar’ for those of you not a member of the Texas Bar). Carry there, even with a permit, and you’re in violation of the law. That will get you busted, jail time, and your precious permit revoked. Not good.
Property owners can opt to prohibit guns on their property (in Texas, property rights are considered to be a God-given right. God Bless Texas.) The Texas Legislature, with malice aforethought, created verbiage within the context of the law for two signs that are to be posted in places that prohibit guns. One sign prohibits the carry of ANY firearm on the premises by anyone (including permit holders, but excluding officers of the law). The other sign prohibits the UNlicensed carry of weapons on the premises. (Duh.) The second sign is intended to be a deterrent, in much the same vein as a non-functioning, dummy surveillance camera.
Scenario One: Let’s assume you’re exercising your 2nd Amendment rights and you hold a CHL, and are packin’ heat. Your kid does what kids do, and opens a vein whilst playing. You grab the little protein unit and race for the nearest ER. If you’re thinking clearly (a dicey proposition at a time like that, at best) you’ll realize that the very act of waking through the doors with your kid could get you fined, arrested, convicted, imprisoned, and stripped of your carry permit. You’d best have a plan for leaving the weapon – secured, no less – in the car, or someplace where it won’t be either a problem or a liability.
Senario Two: Let’s assume that you get a call from school, and your child has to come home for this that or the other reason. Same rules apply. But this time, you’re in your Jeep with the top down and doors off. Jeeps are notoriously lacking in secure storage areas. You’ve got your center console (which can be jacked with a plastic spork from KFC) and your trunk(ish) area, which may or may not be securable. But to access the trunk, you’ve got to waltz around to the stern of the vehicle, open the pod bay door, Hal, and engage in some acrobatic pas de deux that will remind many passers-by of someone attempting to take a leak by the side of the road as inconspicuously as possible. In other words, everybody’s gonna know you’re up to sumthin’ – and will likely assume the worst.
Scenario Three: You get dinged in a traffic stop. The officer approaches your car and asks for license and registration, or alternately asks/orders you out of your vehicle. Stop for a moment. In Texas, anyway, you have a legal obligation to let the officer know immediately that you are a CHL holder, regardless of if you are currently armed. But the seemingly simple act of getting out of your car could cause your concealed piece to become not-so-concealed. Bad move, bunkie. Nothing says to an officer “time to unholster my weapon and order a perp to freeze/put their hands up/hold still whilst I prepare to defend myself” like them seeing a gun they didn’t expect to see. My CHL instructor (and county sheriff) recommended that you loudly announce that you are a CHL holder before you do ANYthing else, inform the officer if you are armed, and then inquire as to how the officer would prefer that you deal with the presence of a handgun on your person or in your vehicle. Thinking clearly and thinking ahead in this situation can keep you from being the unfortunate victim of a case of mistaken intentions/identity.
Scenario Four: You walk into a store/restaurant/other public place. You are carrying legally. Your weapon is concealed. You have the right to carry on the premises. Somebody – a store employee or other patron, twigs to the fact that you’re armed. They complain. A store manager, security guard, or off-duty cop employed to secure the place comes over and asks if you’re packin’. What do you do? If you wanna get all Constitutional on them, you can tell them to MYOB. Unless they are a cop. That would be, um, unwise. If they push the point, they have a right to ask you to leave the premises. You have a right to not shop there any more. They do NOT have the right to disarm you or arrest you (at least in Texas, and presuming they do not prohibit concealed carry for whatever reason). But they can call the police, and you should never assume that the cops are uniformly well-informed on the finer points of State Law as you are. (One friend of mine carries a copy of the Texas State statute on him, so if he’s hassled, he can quote chapter and verse to the officers. Nice idea, but I’d rather leave and survive to be righteously indignant another day.)
So, given all the crap you’re likely to encounter while exercising your right to conceal carry, is it worth it? That’s a personal decision. But I can tell you that, personally, I’ve never encountered a situation where I regret having a defensive tool available, although I’ve yet to even have to hint that I’m armed to anybody. But keep in mind, the simple act of walking around armed will force you to live your life in “condition orange,” just so you don’t screw up.