The Cobern Law Firm

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Starbucks Coffee Defends The Right To Bear Arms

By Bob Palmer - Daily Tribune Editor Sunday, March 28, 2010

Gun owners around the country made headlines earlier this month by walking into Starbucks coffee shops with a "big iron" strapped to their hips.

This exercise of the "right to carry" could not happen in Texas, unless the person packing heat also owned the Starbucks, Titus County Attorney John Mark Cobern told me last week.

"There is no right to carry in Texas," Cobern said. "The state code declares unlawfully carrying a weapon is Class A misdemeanor."

While you can't walk around town with a pistol openly displayed on your person, Texas law allows citizens to exercise their Second Amendment rights in other ways, including some new freedoms established by the last legislature.

"The law allows you to carry a pistol in your car as long as it is not in plain view," Cobern said.

You can now carry a handgun in your glove box or console of your car without any special license, as long as the gun is not visible.

Of course it is still legal to have a rifle or shotgun in the gun rack of your pickup, but only if you are fond of having your glass broken and weapons stolen.

Cobern cautioned that there are limits to the right to travel with a pistol in your car.

"A person commits an offense in a motor vehicle any time the handgun is in plain view or engaged in criminal activity, a Class B misdemeanor or above, or if someone in the car is a convicted felon or member of a street gang," Cobern said.

While you don't have to worry about a speeding ticket getting you into deeper trouble, Cobern warned it may be easer to find yourself in the soup than you think.

"If you get pulled over for a DWI, you have not only committed a Class A misdemeanor with the DWI, you are also illegally carrying a hand gun," he said.

"The same thing would apply even if you have a concealed hand gun license," Cobern cautioned.

The concealed handgun license does allow a citizen to move around the community with a pistol on his or her person, but the weapon must be concealed.

On the other hand, the weapon can be visible on a person's property, either your house or business.

Of course a person must be legally eligible to own a gun. While Texas does not require you to get a license or permit to purchase a pistol or rifle, you do have to be more than 18 years old, not be a convicted felon, and not fall under certain other legal restrictions.

"It is confusing," Cobern admitted.

The new law allowing you to carry a gun hidden in your car, however, did simplify earlier laws that permitted traveling with a weapon only when you were crossing three counties or taking a deposit to the bank.

"I like the law change," Cobern said. "I think you ought to be able to travel and have a fire arm in your car."

Having a guy wearing a 9 mm next to you while you order your double espresso mocha is another story.