FAQ: Public Libraries and Open Carry
Can public library districts in Texas prohibit patrons from bringing a firearm into the library?
In most cases, public library districts may not prohibit individuals from bringing handguns into the library, so long as the weapons are concealed or in a holster. Public libraries are not specifically referenced as a place where weapons are prohibited by state law (see Texas Penal Code §46.03). In addition, while sections 30.06 and 30.07 of the Texas Penal Code create an offense if a person with a license carries a concealed weapon or openly carries their weapon on the property of another and had notice (e.g., by a posted sign) that entry with a weapon was prohibited, subsection (e) of both statutes specifically carves out property that is owned or leased by a governmental entity and that is not a premises or other place on which the license holder is prohibited from carrying the handgun under section 46.03. Therefore, a public library would likely be prohibited from imposing its own restrictions.
Can a public library that is established as a non-profit organization restrict access for library users with an open/concealed handgun carry license?
As amended by House Bill 1927, section 30.05 of the Texas Penal Code authorizes a person to provide notice that firearms are prohibited on the person's property by posting a sign at each entrance to the property with specific language, in a specific style, and in both English and Spanish. The Texas Penal Code defines a "person" as "an individual or a corporation, association, limited liability company, or other entity or organization governed by the Business Organizations Code." Therefore, if a library established as a non-profit organization meets the definition of "person" in the Texas Penal Code, that library may be authorized to post a sign prohibiting a person from entering the property with a firearm.
Are there any times or locations relevant to libraries where handguns would be prohibited?
Potentially, though prohibitions may not apply to an individual who has a license to carry a handgun:
on the physical premises of a school or educational institution, any grounds or building on which an activity sponsored by a school or educational institution is being conducted, or a passenger transportation vehicle of a school or educational institution, whether the school or educational institution is public or private (Texas Penal Code §46.03(a)(1))*
on the premises of a polling place on the day of an election or during early voting (Texas Penal Code §46.03(a)(2))
on the premises where a high school or collegiate interscholastic event is taking place (Texas Penal Code §46.08)
in the room or rooms where a meeting of a governmental entity is taking place, if the meeting is an open meeting subject to Chapter 551 of the Texas Government Code, if the entity provided notice of the meeting required by that chapter (Texas Penal Code §46.03(a)(14))*
*Does not apply to a person licensed to carry under Government Code, Chapter 411, Subchapter H.
May a person otherwise authorized to carry a handgun carry the weapon in their hand?
No. A weapon must be kept in a holster (Texas Penal Code §46.02).
What about library employees and volunteers? Can they be prohibited from carrying handguns in the library?
Libraries may prohibit their employees and volunteers from bringing handguns into the workplace and from carrying in employer-owned or leased vehicles used for work (Texas Labor Code §52.062(a)(b)). This is the case whether or not the employee is licensed to carry a handgun.
Libraries may not restrict staff who are licensed to carry a handgun from having the weapon in a locked personal vehicle in the employer’s parking lot (Texas Labor Code §52.061).