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Talking Points Booklet: Ending “Gun-Free” Zones

Ending “Gun-Free” Zones

Government should not penalize honest Texans for being prepared to defend themselves

Current Law

Even those with a license to carry (LTC) may not carry handguns, either openly or concealed, in certain places. Those places include schools, polling places, government court or offices utilized by a court, racetracks, secured areas of airports, and within 1,000 feet of places of execution (from Texas Penal Code 46.03); and on the premises of places that derive 51% or more of their income from sale of alcoholic beverages for on-premises consumption (e.g., bars); high school, collegiate, or professional sporting events; correctional facilities, hospitals, and nursing homes (except with permission from the administration); civil commitment facilities; and government meetings that provide effective 30.06 and 30.07 notice (from Texas Penal Code 46.035). LTC holders also may not carry while intoxicated (Texas Penal Code 46.035).

An exception to the above is campus carry: LTC holders may carry concealed handguns onto the premises of a college or university, except in places where that establishment has provided effective 30.06 notice. A private college or university may post 30.06 notice anywhere. A public college or university may post 30.06 notice in specific places that it justifies to the legislature if those places don’t constitute a de facto ban.

Texas law provides additional options for carry in K-12 schools. First, an institution may allow carrying however it would like to by issuing a written authorization or a written regulation. The institution may choose to require that those who carry attend a 16-hour course developed by DPS; this is known as the Guardian program. Or, the institution may implement the School Marshal program, in which a few designated school employees attend an 80-hour training course and then are allowed to have handguns at the school. Marshals who interact with students regularly must store their handguns in a locked box. The School Marshal program also applies to junior colleges.

In addition to government-mandated “gun-free” zones, private business owners can also prohibit carrying in their establishments by providing effective 30.06 notice (to prohibit concealed carry) or 30.07 notice (to prohibit open carry). If notice is provided by signage, the signs must meet specific size and wording requirements to have the force of law (see Texas Penal Code 30.06 and 30.07).

GOA’s Position

Texas should end all government-mandated “gun-free” zones and not penalize gun carry in specific locations. Specifically, we endorse School Carry legislation (allowing LTC holders to carry concealed in K-12 schools) and Designated Defender legislation (allowing those who are not intoxicated to carry in bars, similar to a designated driver who accompanies friends to a bar but remains sober). Business owners in Texas have the right to prohibit carry in their privately owned establishments and to ask those who carry to leave the premises, although this makes their establishments less safe. However, Texas should not criminally penalize a person for simply carrying past 30.06 or 30.07 signs.

How We Talk About Repealing “Gun-Free” Zones

  • Around 94% of mass shootings since 1950 have occurred in places where ordinary, honest people weren’t allowed to carry a gun for self-defense. Statistically, “gun-free” zones are not safe. (See Link #1).
  • Someone intent on causing harm won’t obey a law and a sign. “Gun-free” zones only make law-abiding citizens more vulnerable.
  • Even a quick police response will be too late to stop an attacker from killing innocent victims. We have the best chance of saving our lives when we are able to respond to an attack with equal or greater force.
  • New Hampshire does not prohibit carry in any location besides courthouses, and it is consistently ranked one of the top 3 safest states.
  • A 2018 FBI Active Shooter Report presented data showing that armed citizens are extremely successful at stopping attackers and saving lives. (See Link #2).
  • No Texan should have to break the law and risk a criminal charge for simply carrying a gun to be ready to defend herself or her family.
  • In a 2013 study ordered by President Obama (See Link #3), the Centers for Disease Control found the following:
    • “Defensive use of guns by crime victims is a common occurrence.”
    • “Almost all national survey estimates indicate that defensive gun uses by victims are at least as common as offensive uses by criminals, with estimates of annual [defensive gun] uses ranging from about 500,000 to more than 3 million, in the context of about 300,000 violent crimes involving firearms in 2008.”
    • “. . . consistently lower injury rates among gun-using crime victims compared with victims who used other self-protective strategies. . ..”
  • A comprehensive 1985 study found that a majority of convicted felons were more afraid of encountering armed citizens than police and did not want to mess with those who carried a gun. (See Link #4.)
  • The 9th Circuit court acknowledged that “an average of 657 Americans — and perhaps up to 6,849 Americans — use guns to defend themselves every single day of the year.” (See Link #5).
  • Let us be our own first defenders.

How We Talk About Designated Defender Law

  • Repeal the 51% ban that currently prohibits handgun carry at places that make 51% or more of their income from alcohol to be served on premises – i.e., bars, some festivals.
  • It’s already illegal to carry while intoxicated, and a Designated Defender law will not change that.
  • Allow “designated carriers,” similar to “designated drivers.” If we’re not intoxicated, let us carry.
  • Multiple mass attacks have been carried out in bars. (See Link #6.) Gun bans didn’t stop attackers from shooting and killing victims, but designated defenders, carrying legally, could have saved many lives.

How We Talk About School Carry

  • Texas should expand campus carry to K-12 schools, so any LTC holder can carry concealed. This is fully consistent with current Federal law, which already provides that those who have a license to carry may carry within school zones if the state allows such carry.
  • Children are one of our most vulnerable populations and deserve the greatest protection possible. Don’t deny them a policy that could save their lives.
  • Allowing armed citizens in schools is one of the most effective safety solutions and has zero cost to the state.
  • The role of armed security or law enforcement is to go after a threat. We don’t want to do that – we simply want to be able to defend ourselves and stay alive if the threat finds us.
  • We do not advocate for forcibly arming teachers. However, any teachers, staff, coaches, volunteers, or parents who choose to carry on an everyday basis, and who want to carry in schools, should not be penalized for doing so.
  • While active shooter training is desirable for those who are tasked with pursuing and engaging a shooter, gun owners with minimal training successfully defend themselves every day in the U.S. (See Link #5.)
  • Four states allow all license holders to carry in schools statewide (Alabama, New Hampshire, Oregon, and Utah); many others have limited carry programs. No increases in crimes in schools have been attributed to these laws and policies allowing school carry. (See Link #7.)


  1. Mass Shootings in “gun-free” zones:
  2. Armed Citizens Are Successful 94% Of the Time at Active Shooter Events by Jacob Paulsen, September 18, 2018:
  3. CDC Study on Defensive Gun Use:
  4. The Armed Criminal in America: A Survey of Incarcerated Felons by James D. Wright & Peter H. Rossi, July 1985 (
  5. Duncan v. Becerra, August 2020, page 40 (
  6. Pulse is Not Alone: A Brief History of Attacks on Gay Clubs, June 2016 (; see also How a night out turned into a night of horror at a bar in California, November 2018,
  7. State-by-state analysis of school carry:


  • SUPPORT: SB 546 by Sen. Springer repeals “gun-free” zones (from Penal Code 46.03 and 46.035) for those who can lawfully carry handguns in public. As worded, the bill applies to LTC holders.
  • SUPPORT: SB 514 by Sen. Hall allows those with a License to Carry (LTC) to carry concealed handguns inside taxpayer-funded K-12 schools. Prohibits those schools from banning carry by school employees.

See our updated bill list at