Places Weapons Prohibited is a Texas offense that prohibits a person from possessing weapons in certain places. To obtain a conviction, the state’s attorneys must prove that you intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly possessed a weapon covered under the statute or went to a prohibited place with one of those weapons.
PLACES WEAPONS PROHIBITED ATTORNEY FAQs
- What is the current Texas law regarding Places Weapons Prohibited?
- What weapons are covered?
- Who is not covered by the Places Weapons Prohibited offense?
- Does Places Weapons Prohibited apply to soldiers, officers of the court or penal institution guards?
- What are the other statutory defenses to the Places Weapons Prohibited offense?
- What if I had a concealed handgun license?
- What is the penalty for a Places Weapons Prohibited conviction?
Have you been charged with a Places Weapons Prohibited offense? Call criminal lawyer Paul Saputo at (888) 239-9305 to discuss legal representation.
UPDATE: The Places Weapons Prohibited offense was updated in the 85th Texas Legislature. Learn more details about the amendments below.
The Places Weapons Prohibited offense contains some of the most hotly-debated law in Texas politics. The concealed carry and open carry rules have been frequently amended, especially with regard to educational institutions, and these laws all interact with the Places Weapons Prohibited offense.
The Places Weapons Prohibited law is found in Texas Penal Code Section 46.03. In 2017, the legislature updated the law by swapping out “illegal knife” for “location-restricted knife,” so, effective September 2017, the current law is as follows:1
(a) A person commits an offense if the person intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly possesses or goes with a firearm, location-restricted knife, club, or prohibited weapon listed in Section 46.05(a):
The law then continues in subsections (a)(1)-(6) by listing six categories of places where you are prohibited from carrying those weapons. Each subsection describing a place where those weapons are prohibited is summarized below.
The first subsection describes schools, events sponsored by schools and school vehicles, but there are two exceptions. Carrying a weapon is not prohibited on the school premises if the institution authorized the carrying of the weapon in writing or if you are carrying a licensed concealed weapon on a college campus or a place where the college is sponsoring an event.2
The second subsection describes polling places, but only on election-day and during early-voting.3 The third group of prohibited places are courts and offices used by the courts, unless the weapon is allowed by written authorization of the court.4 The fourth and fifth prohibited places are racetracks5 and secured areas of airports.6
The sixth and final subsection is within 1,000 feet of a “place of execution” on the day a death sentence is scheduled to be carried out.7 However, within this prohibited place, people are excepted from prosecution who possess a firearm or club (1) while in a driving vehicle on a public road or (2) while at the person’s residence or employment location.8 This makes sense because it protects people from committing an offense who are merely driving on a public road close to an execution location. The exception also protects people who live or work close to an execution location.
In 2017, the legislature added a subsection (a-1), which prohibits you from bringing location-restricted knives into certain other places:9
(a-1) A person commits an offense if the person intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly possesses or goes with a location-restricted knife:
(1) on the premises of a business that has a permit or license issued under Chapter 25, 28, 32, 69, or 74, Alcoholic Beverage Code, if the business derives 51 percent or more of its income from the sale or service of alcoholic beverages for on-premises consumption, as determined by the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission under Section 104.06, Alcoholic Beverage Code;
(2) on the premises where a high school, collegiate, or professional sporting event or interscholastic event is taking place, unless the person is a participant in the event and a location-restricted knife is used in the event;
(3) on the premises of a correctional facility;
(4) on the premises of a hospital licensed under Chapter 241, Health and Safety Code, or on the premises of a nursing facility licensed under Chapter 242, Health and Safety Code, unless the person has written authorization of the hospital or nursing facility administration, as appropriate;
(5) on the premises of a mental hospital, as defined by Section 571.003, Health and Safety Code, unless the person has written authorization of the mental hospital administration;
(6) in an amusement park; or
(7) on the premises of a church, synagogue, or other established place of religious worship.
The weapons covered by the Places Weapons Prohibited statute are firearms, location-restricted knives, clubs, or a “prohibited weapon listed in Section 46.05(a).”10 Illegal knives were removed from this list in 2017 and replaced with “location-restricted knives.”11
The weapons listed in Section 46.05(a) are: explosive weapons, machine guns, short-barrel firearms, firearm silencers, knuckles, armor-piercing ammunition, chemical dispensing devices, zip guns, tire deflation devices and improvised explosive devices.12 Improvised explosive devices were only added to this list in 2017.13
Firearm is defined in Subsection 46.01(3) as “any device designed, made, or adapted to expel a projectile through a barrel by using the energy generated by an explosion or burning substance or any device readily convertible to that use.”14 The new “location-restricted knives” definition is found in 46.01(6): a “knife with a blade over five and one-half inches.”15
Club is defined in Subsection 46.01(1) as “an instrument that is specially designed, made, or adapted for the purpose of inflicting serious bodily injury or death by striking a person with the instrument.”16 This is a very broad definition that includes items like baseball bats and axes.
The Places Weapons Prohibited offense does not apply to (1) peace officers or special investigators (under Article 2.122, Code of Criminal Procedure), (2) so long as they are licensed to carry a gun, active judicial officers (as defined by Section 411.201, Government Code), district, county and municipal attorneys and their assistants and (3) under many circumstances, parole officers, community supervision officers, corrections department officers, honorably retired peace officers and federal criminal investigators.17
Does Places Weapons Prohibited apply to soldiers, officers of the court or penal institution guards?
If you are a member of the armed forces, a member of the national guard, a guard for a penal institution, or an officer of the court, acting in your official duty, then you cannot be found guilty of carrying a prohibited weapon in any of the first four categories of places.18
People in the armed forces or national guard, penal institution guards, and certain security officers have a defense to (a)(5) prosecutions (secured parts of the airport) if they carried a firearm or club while (1) traveling to or from an assigned work place or (2) in the discharge of duty.19
Another statutory defense to an (a)(5) prosecution is that the person checked all firearms as baggage before entering into a secured area of an airport.20 A person also has a defense to an (a)(5) prosecution if the person had a concealed handgun that the person was licensed to carry concealed and immediately exited the screening checkpoint in accordance with the statute.21
The last statutory defense listed in the Places Weapons Prohibited statute applies to certain security officers who possess a firearm or club while going to or from a racetrack or while exercising duties as a security officer at a racetrack.22
Other than the situation described above (regarding secured areas of airports), it is not a defense to prosecution of Places Weapons Prohibited that you had a concealed handgun license.23
Places Weapons Prohibited is currently punished a Class A misdemeanor if the weapon was a location-restricted knife and the violation was a subsection (a) violation.24 If the weapon was any other weapon, or if the conviction is for a subsection (a-1) violation with a location-restricted knife, then the offense is a third degree felony.25
Under the law in effect prior to September 1, 2017, Places Weapons Prohibited was simply punished a third degree felony.26
1 Texas Penal Code §46.03(a), as amended by H.B. 1935, 85th Legislature, Section 5, effective September 1, 2017. The changes made by the legislature from the previous version of the law were as follows:
(a) A person commits an offense if the person intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly possesses or goes with a firearm, [location-restricted]
illegalknife, club, or prohibited weapon listed in Section 46.05(a):
The bill created a new subsection (a-1) that prohibits carrying “location-restricted knives” in certain places, and it swapped out the “illegal knives” regulated in subsection (a) for “location-restricted knives.”
11 H.B. 1935, 85th Legislature, Section 5. The term “Illegal knives” was defined in Penal Code §46.01(6) and included the following: (1) a knife with a blade over five and one-half inches, (2) a throwing knife, (3) a dagger, (4) a bowie knife, (5) a sword or (6) a spear.