Two weeks into the new year and new open carry law, and businesses are still working to post signs banning weapons. While the new signs are still going up, some state facilities are now taking them down.
The new open carry law is bringing with it the new ability to openly carry a weapon into state-run psychiatric hospitals.
Prior to the passage of open carry, Texas state psychiatric hospitals were allowed to post signs prohibiting even concealed carry from its campuses, according to Carrie Williams, Spokeswoman for the Texas Department of State Health Services.
However, after the passage of open carry, there were no exemptions for psychiatric hospitals under HB 910, according to Williams. If state agencies do not abide by the new open carry law, they will now be subject to penalties.
That’s why now, at the North Texas State Hospital and government entities like the Helen Farabee Centers, you’ll notice signage banning the weapons have been taken down.
“While licensed visitors are legally permitted to carry on our hospital campuses, our patients are being actively treated for psychiatric conditions and generally it's best not to expose them to weapons of any kind,” said Williams, in a statement sent to Newschannel 6.
At the North Texas State Hospital, and other state-run psychiatric hospitals, you’ll notice new signs asking visitors to voluntarily conceal their weapons or leave them locked inside their car before going inside.
The concern is openly carrying weapons could give the mentally ill access to firearms.
“Just like any situation, if a gun is in the wrong hands with the wrong person, you know, the world knows what happens if that happened,” said Joe Evans, a permit holder of License to Carry.
Evans said he doesn't think a psychiatric hospital is any place for openly carried weapons.
“If it’s regulated, maybe. Being a concealed handgun license holder myself, I wouldn't know if that would be a place where you would necessarily need to carry one,” Evans said.
Patients and visitors will continue to be monitored and restricted to certain areas of campus at North Texas State Hospital. While the Texas Department of State Health Services has released very little information on the move forward, officials at the Helen Farabee Center said they are actively monitoring the situation.
Officials with the Helen Farabee Centers said they took down the signage banning the weapons in November, and so far they haven’t noticed any problems. However, the changes could impact treatment agreements and employment requirements.
If the state agencies do not abide by those changes they could face an initial fine of up to $1,500. For each additional violation they could face fines up to $10,500.