Open Carry Risk Management

Effective January 1, 2016, Texans holding a valid license to carry a handgun will be able to do so openly (HB 910). Open carry, as it is known, is not without limitations. As your trusted risk managers and insurance advisors, Swingle Collins & Associates would like to take a moment to educate our clients on the applicable restrictions to open carry and give practical advice on how to protect your company and employees.

Despite the law’s passing, there are certain locations where open carry will be prohibited. Namely:

  • Sporting events, bars and restaurants that collect over 51% of their revenue from alcohol

  • Religious establishments

  • Schools and school buses

  • Hospitals

  • Airports and airplanes

  • Private property and offices with adequate signage restricting firearms

For Swingle Collins’ clients who want to restrict open carry at their business locations, the question becomes what is required for adequate signage. Fortunately, the law clearly provides us with that information. As written in the law (HB 910), the sign must, “be in contrasting colors, with block letters, having a text 1” or greater in height and contain the following language.

Pursuant to Section 30.07, Penal Code (trespass by license holder with an openly carried handgun), a person licensed under Subchapter H, Chapter 411, Government Code (handgun licensing law), may not enter this property with a handgun that is carried openly.

Open carry does not, in and of itself, create coverage issues from an insurance perspective. General liability insurance policies typically do not contain any exclusion specific to allowing employees to open carry on your premises unless your company is in anyway accused of contributing to the shooting event. For example, the incident in Waco this past May. Likewise, workers compensation insurance will cover all injuries induced by shots fired at the workplace except if the incident is characterized as horseplay.

Prohibition of open carry at the office is something to consider. To do so, consider including restrictions in your employee handbook and posting the appropriate signage at the entrance of the establishment. Be aware, though, that you may not restrict employees from bringing a firearm into the parking garage unless the vehicle is company owned.

From a general safety issue standpoint, when contemplating your company’s stance on open carry, consider the following precautions:

  • Require employee background checks (Subject to OSHA laws).

  • Remain observant of workplace happenings and employee relations.

  • Effectively communicate potential threats on the company and employees.

  • Make workplace safety training and education part of your daily routine.

  • Make safety procedures and emergency evacuation plans readily available in the employee handbook.

Contact your Swingle Collins & Associates insurance advisor today to discuss and implement an effective risk management procedure for your company.