Earlier this year a public policy report I wrote (pdf) was published under the joint auspices of the Texas State Rifle Association, the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition and the ACLU of Texas criticizing attempts by some prosecutors to circumvent a statute passed during the 79th (2005) Texas Legislature. The open-records based study even received attention from The New York Times, and was widely distributed in support of HB 1815 by Isett/Hinojosa, the legislative fix that would disallow Texas prosecutors from sidestepping the law.
The new version of the law, which everyone expects the Governor to sign, repeals the old language entirely and says an individual cannot be charged with unlawfully carrying a weapon (UCW) in their personal vehicle unless:
- the handgun is in plain view (not found as a result of a consent search),
- the person is engaged in criminal activity other than traffic violations,
- the person is legally disallowed from owning a weapon (e.g., past criminal convictions), or
- the person's name is in the state of Texas' criminal street gang database.