L3R – 3.7 Firearms

Firearms

I     Firearm Requirements

In addition to the requirements of TOC §1702.163(a), the commission by rule shall establish other qualifications for individuals who are employed in positions requiring the carrying of firearms. The qualifications may include:

  • physical and mental standards; and
  • other requirements that relate to the competency and reliability of individuals to carry firearms.

The commission shall prescribe appropriate forms and adopt rules by which evidence is presented that the requirements are fulfilled.

I      Firearm Standards

Commissioned security officers and personal protection officers may only carry firearms of a category recognized in subsection (b) of this section, and only if:

  • the officers have been formally trained as required under the Act and this chapter; and
  • the officers have submitted documentation of the training to the department.

The recognized firearm categories are:

  • SA: Any handgun, whether semi-automatic or not
  • NSA: Handguns that are not semi-automatic
  • STG: Shotgun

Commissioned security officers and personal protection officers must exercise care and sound judgment in the use and storage of their firearms.

No security officer may carry an inoperative, unsafe, replica, or simulated firearm in the course and scope of employment or while in uniform.

No commissioned security officer or personal protection officer may brandish, point, exhibit, or otherwise display a firearm at any time, except as authorized by law.

The discharge of a firearm by a security officer while on duty or otherwise acting or purporting to act under the authority of a security officer commission shall be immediately reported to the officer’s employer. The employer must notify the department of the discharge of a firearm in writing within twenty-four (24) hours of the incident. The notification to the department must include:

  • the name of the person discharging the firearm;
  • the name of the employer;
  • the location of the incident;
  • a brief description of the incident;
  • a statement reflecting whether death, personal injury, or property damage resulted; and
  • the name of the investigating or arresting law enforcement agency, if applicable.

III     Handgun Proficiency Examination

The proficiency examination required to obtain or renew a security officer commission must include:

  • a written section on the subjects listed in TOC §1702.1675(g); and
    • a physical demonstration of handgun proficiency that meets the minimum standards established under TOC §1702.1675(h) or (i).

Note: Only a department-approved instructor may administer the handgun proficiency examination.

An applicant for a security officer commission must demonstrate the required proficiency within the 90- day period before the date the security officer commission is issued.

The school shall maintain the records of the required proficiency and make the records available for inspection by the department.

II   Handgun Course

In addition to the firearm qualification requirements as set forth in the Act, a department approved firearm training instructor may qualify a student by using:

  • The Texas Department of Public Safety Primary Issued Handgun Qualification Course; or
  • The Texas Department of Public Safety Approved License to Carry Handgun License Course.

All individuals qualifying with a firearm to satisfy the requirements of the Act shall qualify with an actual demonstration by the individual of the ability to safely and proficiently use the category of firearm for which the individual seeks qualification.

The categories of handguns are:

  • SA: Semi-automatic; and
  • NSA: Non semi-automatic.

Note: The SA qualification authorizes the carrying of either semi-automatic or non-semi- automatic handguns.

For purposes of this chapter and compliance with Section 1702.1685 of the Act, a firearms instructor who holds a firearms instructor proficiency certificate issued by the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement (TCOLE) is a department approved instructor for the limited purpose of the firearm qualification of retired law enforcement officers licensed under the Act as commissioned security officers or personal protection officers. A certificate issued under this subsection need not comply with Section 35.147(b)(3)(A), (B) (with respect to the approval number only), or (C), of this chapter.

I                              Shotgun Course of Fire

Any commissioned security officer licensed by the department who, in the performance of his/her duties, has a shotgun available to assist in the protection of life or property must demonstrate proficiency to a department approved firearms training instructor by successfully completing the course of fire for shotgun training. The course of fire shall consist of nine rounds of nine (9) pellet “00” buckshot (no slugs) fired as detailed in this section:

  • From a standing position at a distance of fifteen (15) yards, three (3) rounds of “00” buckshot in twelve (12) seconds;
  • From a standing position at a distance of ten (10) yards, three (3) rounds of “00” buckshot in ten (10) seconds;
  • From a standing position at a distance of five (5) yards, three (3) rounds of “00” buckshot in ten (10) seconds; or
  • An alternate course of fire may be approved by the director upon receipt of written application.

A biennial familiarization of six (6) rounds of “00” buckshot shall be required for renewal of a commissioned security officer. The course of fire shall be as outlined in subsection (a) of this section reducing the number of rounds from three (3) to two (2) with a commensurate halving of time in each category.

Note: The category for any shotgun is STG.

VI     Firearm Restrictions

A commissioned security officer other than a person acting as a personal protection officer may not carry a firearm unless:

  • the security officer is engaged in the performance of duties as a security officer or traveling to or from the place of assignment:
  • the security officer wears a distinctive uniform indicating that the individual is a security officer;
  • andt he firearm is in plain view.

II    Unlawful Possession of Firearm

A person who has been convicted of a felony commits an offense if he possesses a firearm:

  • after conviction and before the fifth anniversary of the person’s release from confinement following conviction of the felony or the person’s release from supervision under community supervision, parole, or mandatory supervision, whichever date is later; or
  • after the period described by Subdivision (1), at any location other than the premises at which the person lives.

Note: A person who is a member of a criminal street gang, as defined by Section 71.01, commits an offense if the person intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly carries on or about his or her person a handgun in a motor vehicle or watercraft.

A person who has been convicted of an offense under Section 22.01, punishable as a Class A misdemeanor and involving a member of the person’s family or household, commits an offense if the person possesses a firearm before the fifth anniversary of the later of:

  • the date of the person’s release from confinement following conviction of the misdemeanor; or
  • the date of the person’s release from community supervision following conviction of the misdemeanor.

A person, other than a peace officer, as defined by Section 1.07, actively engaged in employment as a sworn, full-time paid employee of a state agency or political subdivision, who is subject to an order issued under Section 6.504 or Chapter 85, Family Code, under Article 17.292 or Subchapter A, Chapter 7B, Code of Criminal Procedure, or by another jurisdiction as provided by Chapter 88, Family Code, commits an offense if the person possesses a firearm after receiving notice of the order and before expiration of the order.

In this section, “family,” “household,” and “member of a household” have the meanings assigned by Chapter 71, Family Code.

Note: An offense under Subsection (a) is a felony of the third degree. An offense under Subsection (a-1), (b), or (c) is a Class A misdemeanor.

An offense under the laws of this state, another state, or the United States is, except as provided by Subsection (g), a felony if, at the time it is committed, the offense:

  • is designated by a law of this state as a felony;
  • contains all the elements of an offense designated by a law of this state as a felony; or
  • is punishable by confinement for one year or more in a penitentiary.

An offense is not considered a felony for purposes of Subsection (f) if, at the time the person possesses a firearm, the offense:

  • is not designated by a law of this state as a felony; and
  • does not contain all the elements of any offense designated by a law of this state as a felony.

II    Making a Firearm Accessible to a Child

In this section “child” means a person younger than 17 years of age, “readily dischargeable firearm” means a firearm that is loaded with ammunition, whether or not a round is in the chamber, and secure” means to take steps that a reasonable person would take to prevent the access to a readily dischargeable firearm by a child, including but not limited to placing a firearm in a locked container or temporarily rendering the firearm inoperable by a trigger lock or other means.

A person commits an offense if a child gains access to a readily dischargeable firearm and the person with criminal negligence:

  • failed to secure the firearm; or
  • left the firearm in a place to which the person knew or should have known the child would gain access.

It is an affirmative defense to prosecution under this section that the child’s access to the firearm:

  • was supervised by a person older than 18 years of age and was for hunting, sporting, or other lawful purposes;
  • consisted of lawful defense by the child of people or property;
  • was gained by entering property in violation of this code; or
  • occurred during a time when the actor was engaged in an agricultural enterprise.

Except as provided by Subsection (e), an offense under this section is a Class C misdemeanor. An offense under this section is a Class A misdemeanor if the child discharges the firearm and causes death or serious bodily injury to himself or another person.

A peace officer or other person may not arrest the actor before the seventh day after the date on which the offense is committed if:

  • the actor is a member of the family, as defined by Section 71.003, Family Code, of the child who discharged the firearm; and
  • the child in discharging the firearm caused the death of or serious injury to the child.

Note: A dealer of firearms shall post in a conspicuous position on the premises where the dealer conducts business a sign that contains the following warning in block letters not less than one inch in height:

IT IS UNLAWFUL TO STORE, TRANSPORT, OR ABANDON AN UNSECURED FIREARM IN A PLACE WHERE CHILDREN ARE LIKELY TO BE AND CAN OBTAIN ACCESS TO THE FIREARM.

IX      Relating to License to Carry

While possession of a valid license to carry (LTC) allows for a citizen to legally carry a firearm, the LTC does not give a security officer the authority to carry a firearm on duty unless otherwise commissioned under Private Security regulations. The authorization to carry a firearm under the Private Security Act does not extend to that licensed individual when off duty and not traveling to and from employment.

Legislative changes enacted by the 87th Legislature through House Bill 1927 (commonly referred to as “permit-less carry”) do not override the requirements of the Private Security Act.