Consistent with state law, VIA currently allows the concealed carry of handguns by individuals with a Concealed Handgun License (CHL). State law has been amended and as of January 1, 2016, Texas will allow “open carry” in public places.
This law will allow licensed holders the right to carry a handgun on their person in public, provided it is properly secured in a shoulder or belt holster. Examples of public spaces include libraries, parks, and public areas of public buildings. The new statewide law’s definition of “public” also includes riding public transportation and applies to all transit systems in Texas.
VIA complies with state law, and is working alongside local law enforcement and other Texas transit authorities on implementation to ensure the continued delivery of safe service to our customers.
The new law states a licensed holder must:
- Keep his/her firearm properly holstered at all times; and
- Never touch or motion toward his/her weapon in an intimidating manner.
When carrying, the license must be with the individual at all times. Only patrons with a valid firearm license may carry a handgun on a VIA bus or premises.
Operators may not refuse service to an individual who is legally exercising his/her right to carry. As long as the weapon is properly holstered and the patron is not exhibiting any threatening behavior or action, the patron is complying with state law.
Consistent with VIA’s current practice involving all patrons and our passenger Code of Conduct, exhibiting suspicious behavior, engaging in disruptive activity, and/or actions which create a public disturbance mean an individual may be removed from the vehicle or premises by a police officer or supervisor. Additionally, brandishing a gun, improper exhibition, threatening, being unsafe or careless, and/or gesturing in a malicious manner are all cause for expulsion, citation and/or arrest.
VIA will still exercise its right to prohibit possession of handguns in rooms where posted public meetings are being held as provided by law, including meetings of the VIA Board of Trustees. VIA will post state-mandated signs to identify places where handguns may not be carried.
Knowing the law, its restrictions, and the legal obligations of “open carry” customers is important for the continued safety of all patrons.
VIA remains committed to safety in public spaces and to working with our partners in law enforcement to provide a secure environment for our patrons and employees.