Since 1995, Texans have been allowed to carry concealed handguns by holding a Concealed Handgun License (CHL). But as of January 1, 2016, individuals holding a License to Carry (LTC) are now allowed to carry a handgun in plain view.
The new LTC program has replaced the CHL program, but the requirements are essentially the same. Applicants must complete four to six hours of classroom training, pass a written exam, and pass a shooting proficiency test. A former CHL holder does not have to retest or reapply to obtain a LTC; they are essentially grandfathered into the new licensing scheme.
There are many factors that may make an individual ineligible to hold a LTC, mostly related to criminal charges or convictions. For the purposes of eligibility, a “conviction” includes charges that were later dismissed by completing probation or deferred adjudication. Other factors that may result in ineligibility are chemical or alcohol dependency, certain psychological diagnoses, the existence of a protective or restraining order, and even delinquent child support obligations.
There are still certain areas where guns are not allowed. In fact, in addition to the places where guns were prohibited under the former CHL laws, such as schools, churches, courthouses, etc., open carry is prohibited on college campuses (including parking areas, streets, and walkways). Open carry is also not allowed by an individual who is acting as an ununiformed personal protection officer (as defined by the Occupations Code). Private property owners may also exclude LTC holders by posting a sign very similar to the sign previously used to exclude CHL holders.
An interesting side note is that Texas law has never addressed how many handguns a person may carry, only that guns must be carried in a shoulder or belt holster. Theoretically, someone could carry multiple holstered weapons, which is both frightening and amusing at the same time.
So what does this mean for the average Joe? Not a whole lot, really, except that now you may actually see the gun that was previously hidden out of sight.