There’s a new “open carry” gun law in Texas that allows legally licensed handgun owners to openly carry a holstered gun in public.
But, as the Houston Airport System memo notes, “there still are some restrictions in certain locations, including at airports.”
A statement outlining what the new state rules mean for passengers and employees at George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH), William P. Hobby Airport (HOU) and Ellington Airport (EFD) – and other airports in the state – reminds travelers that gun owners with properly licensed and displayed guns (as well as gun owners with licenses for concealed weapons) “can have their gun in public areas only, like baggage, ticketing, garages and public sidewalks or walkways.”
Federal law still prohibits passengers from bringing weapons to or past airport security checkpoints and the TSA is permitted to issue fines to travelers found with loaded or unloaded guns.
But an amendment to the Texas handgun licensing law that went into effect in September says a passenger found with a licensed gun at an airport checkpoint won’t be subject to felony charges as long as the gun was taken to the airport by accident (the explanation the TSA says most everyone caught with a gun at an airport seems to give) and as long as the passenger immediately takes their gun away from the secure area when it’s found.
The TSA issues a weekly report of the number of firearms (and other prohibited items) found at airports checkpoints and does an annual year-end tally.
Three Texas airports – DFW, and both George Bush Intercontinental and Hobby Airport in Houston – were in the TSA’s list of “Top 10 Airports for Gun Catches in 2014.”
Open carry laws in many other states already permit licensed gun owners to bring firearms into the public areas of airports and in June a man dropping his daughter off at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International made national news by walking through the airport carrying an AR-15 rifle.