Texans love the freedom that goes along with being a responsible firearm owner and user. The state also has gun-friendly laws that allow for open or concealed carry, at least with handguns, in many locations. However, there are some limitations on carrying in certain places, including bars. The firearms education experts from Online LTC, the pros to turn to when you want to take a premier LTC class, explain what you need to know about carrying a firearm in a bar in the Lone Star State.
Know that Bars & Firearms Don’t Mix in Texas
According to the Texas State Law Library, Texas law limits the carrying of firearms at any place that primarily sells alcohol. This applies to bars as well as restaurants that serve alcohol. On a related note, Texas Penal Code Section 46.035 prohibits the carrying and use of a handgun while intoxicated.
Know What’s Considered “Intoxicated”
Section 49.01 of the Texas Penal Code defines “intoxicated” as having diminished mental or physical faculties due to alcohol consumption or the use of any controlled substance. A blood alcohol concentration of .8 or more is considered legally intoxicated in Texas. This doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t carry a handgun legally if you have a drink or two. However, if you consume enough alcohol to become legally intoxicated, you’re officially prohibited from carrying a firearm.
Understand the 51 Percent Rule
The restriction on carrying a firearm in bars in Texas doesn’t just refer to traditional bars. It also applies to an establishment that earns more than half of its revenue from alcohol-related sales and consumption. In Texas, this is known as the 51 percent rule. In other words, the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission considers an establishment a “bar” if it makes 51 percent of its income/revenue from the sale of alcoholic beverages.
Look for the “51 Percent” Sign
It’s obvious that a bar is a place where most or all of the revenue comes from alcohol consumption. However, it can be difficult to clearly tell if a restaurant that also serves a full menu of food and nonalcoholic options is also a place where a firearm can’t be carried. This is why bars and restaurants in Texas display “51 percent” signs. These highly visible signs include “51 percent” in large red letters to further increase clarity.
Learn Possible Penalties for Carrying a Firearm into a Bar
If you do carry a firearm into a bar or restaurant with a clearly displayed 51 percent sign, you could face some serious legal consequences. According to uslawshield.com, carrying a firearm into any establishment considered a “51 percent” place of business could result in fines of up to $10,000 and up to 10 years in prison.
Know What Applies in Non-51 Percent Locations
A business in Texas is either 51 percent or it’s not, so there’s no in-between. In other words, a restaurant with a small bar area that derives less than 50 percent of its revenue from alcohol consumption wouldn’t be a 51 percent establishment in Texas. In this instance, you would be able to legally carry anywhere in the restaurant, even in the bar area.
Legal Protections for License to Carry Holders
51 percent locations are considered prohibited locations for LTC holders as well as someone carrying under permitless carry. However, there are some legal protections in place for LTC holders. If a bar or other location that’s a 51 percent location doesn’t have a 51 percent sign properly posted, that’s a defense to prosecution for LTC holders. This means, as an LTC holder, if you’re arrested for carrying in a 51 percent location, the charges may be dropped if the 51 percent sign wasn’t properly posted for the establishment.
If you’re carrying a firearm in Texas, it’s essential to make sure you learn how to do it safely and follow all the applicable laws. Online Texas LTC is committed to providing the best firearms training available. Whether you want to take a Texas LTC class online or you simply want to learn how to shoot and handle a gun safely, Online Texas LTC has exactly what you need. Give us a call today at 512-675-2124.