Texas Open Carry: What You Need to Know

Texas Law Shield Program Attorney Justin Sparks clears up some points about the new Texas open carry law in a studio interview with Marlene Hilton on WFAA’s News 8 Daybreak show in Dallas/Fort Worth.

Justin Sparks is a Fort Worth criminal attorney working in Dallas, Tarrant County, and the surrounding counties. Sparks is a former assistant district attorney, and has been named by Fort Worth Magazine as one of the “Top Criminal Defense Attorneys in Fort Worth” since 2010. He has also been named as a “Rising Star” Criminal Defense Attorney in Texas Monthly Magazine for several years.

The Sparks Law Firm is located at 603 East Belknap St., Fort Worth, TX 76102, (817) 334-0300. Click here to see more about his firm.

Click below to watch the interview. Transcript follows below the video.


Marlene Hilton/WFAA-TV: Open carry can be a very touchy subject for some, and now it is the law. And  police departments across Texas are bracing for more phone calls and more false alarms, actually. But simply, right now all licensed holders can carry their handguns in plain view so long as their gun is in a shoulder or belt holster. But what a lot of people are confused about today are where people can’t carry their handguns. So joining me this morning is Justin Sparks. He’s a born and raised Texan, a criminal defense lawyer, and one of the top attorneys in Fort Worth. So, Justin, thanks for getting up early with us this morning to answer some of these questions.

Justin Sparks: Thanks for having me.

Hilton: The first one I have is, I have my concealed handgun license, and I was a little confused by the term “LTC.” So I’m thinking, well, I don’t have the right permit, so I can’t carry. But you’re telling me it’s the same thing actually?

Sparks: It is. “LTC” stands for license to carry. So if you currently have a permit, it is perfectly legal now. What they’re doing is replacing “Concealed Handgun Licenses” with “Licenses to Carry” as they come up for renewal. So the only thing that will change is the name on the card.

Hilton: Okay. So CHL is the same thing. Is there a certain approved type of holster that I have to go purchase or…

Sparks: There’s not. The law only specifies a belt or shoulder holster, and it does not have to have any type of restraint whatsoever.

Hilton: Okay. So another question, I’m a parent. You know, I have two teenage boys, and I’m sure there are going to be a lot of questions from parents on what to tell their kids because all of a sudden now there may be more people walking around in the grocery store, in Wal-Mart perhaps, wherever, carrying guns. What do you tell your kids?

Sparks: I think you tell them the same thing you would say if a child saw a police officer with a firearm. They went through the proper training. They went through the proper background checks. They’ve been checked mentally and psychologically. If they’re not fit, their license is taken away and they can no longer carry that firearm. So those persons have been screened properly in order to do so.

Hilton: And that’s a very good point as well. What should citizens do if they are concerned? If they see someone with a side arm and they’re concerned, maybe the person is acting erratically or takes the gun out of the holster, when do you call the police?

Sparks: If the gun leaves the holster, there has to be some sort of threat, either threat of force or deadly force, and that’s when you call 911. If the gun is still in the holster and you’re just concerned with that certain person, then I think you call the information line and let them know.

Hilton: And we have a couple of other tips as well. Anyone who is intoxicated who has a gun on them, you can certainly call the police for that. If you see them acting recklessly, as you see they are committing a crime, obviously you would want to alert the authorities.

Sparks: Absolutely. Whether you have a license or not, you cannot carry a firearm in public while you are intoxicated.

Hilton: Very good point. All right. So finally, what about businesses? There are several that we’ve already said aren’t going to allow, some that we’ve said are. What if you’re a business owner and you really just do not want guns on your property? What do you need to do?

Sparks: You need to post two signs now. It used to be just one sign was required to prohibit carry. Now a business needs two signs, one to prohibit concealed carry, and another to prohibit open carry. You must post signage on the entrances of your building or your storefront and give proper notice.

Hilton: Okay. I had a couple of other questions. I know we’re out of time. One was crossing state lines with your side arm, or, like, Brandon has his CHL from another state. Any questions, any further things, what should people do for information?

Sparks: People should call an attorney; just call and check. Get information. Don’t just guess. A lot of states recognize our licenses, but not all of them!

Hilton: Okay. Great information. Justin, thank you so much for being with us today.

Sparks: Thank you for having me.

[This interview took place on January 5, 2016.]

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