February 19, 2015
Concealed Carry at the Rodeo: Leave the Ride to the Professionals! By Texas Law Shield
Howdy yall! Rodeo season is upon us in Texas, and many of our members will be heading to one of the many major livestock shows and rodeos across the state. Before you pack up the kids and your concealed handgun to make the trip to the rodeo, you should be aware that there is a good chance your concealed handgun will not be welcome on the grounds of your local livestock show and rodeo. At rodeos in Houston, San Antonio, and Fort Worth, for example, the concealed carry of handguns is not permitted in certain areas of the event grounds, and carrying one may result in criminal charges. The ride downtown wont be nearly as exciting as the ride in the arena!
Livestock shows and rodeos have a lot to offer you can attend a concert, peruse the livestock pens, watch steer wrestling or barrel racing, and even play games on the midway. Oftentimes, these activities will take place in different areas of the grounds. The Houston Rodeo, for example, is held inside NRG Stadium, while the livestock show is inside of a different building, the NRG Center, and the carnival is held in an outside area. Based on what area of the event you are in, Texas law may or may not permit the carrying of your concealed handgun.
The livestock show is one area in which concealed handguns are not permitted. The reason for this is that many local middle and high schools, as well as collegiate agricultural clubs (such as FFA and 4-H) keep the livestock they have raised in pens at the show. Texas Penal Code Section 46.035(b)(2) prohibits a concealed handgun license (CHL) holder from carrying a concealed handgun on or about the license holders person on the premises where a high school, collegiate or interscholastic event is taking place. FFA and 4-H participation in the livestock show renders the show an interscholastic event under the statute. Further, this prohibition is spelled out more clearly in Section 46.03, which states that it is an offense to intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly possess or go with a firearm on the physical premises of any grounds or building on which an activity sponsored by a school or educational institution is being conducted.
Likewise, carrying a concealed handgun in the stadium or area where the rodeo is taking place is almost certainly going to be off-limits under Texas law. If there is any sort of competition occurring during the rodeo where money is awarded, the rodeo is considered a professional sporting event under Texas law, and as such, concealed handguns will not be allowed on the premises also under Penal Code Section 46.035(b)(2). The statute states that it is an offense to carry a concealed handgun on the premises where a professional sporting event is taking place.
Outside of the stock show and the rodeo, you may have more freedom in where you can carry a concealed handgun. Many stock shows and rodeos will have a commercial area where vendors are selling food and drinks, and there are often midways with carnival rides and games. There are no specific legal prohibitions in Texas law concerning carrying a concealed handgun in these commercial areas. However, there are a couple of signs that every CHL holder needs to be on the lookout for.
The first of these is the Texas Penal Code 30.06 sign, which is a private business or private property owners way to provide notice to CHL holders that they may not carry concealed firearms on the premises. The owner or lessee of the property on which the commercial area/midway is located has the choice of posting a 30.06 sign, which if disregarded by a CHL holder, will make carrying a concealed handgun on the property after receiving notice a crime (criminal trespass). The other sign that might be found in the commercial area is a 51% sign, a sign providing notice that the business posting it derives 51% or more of its income from the sale or service of alcoholic beverages for on-premises consumption, and as a result, the concealed carry of firearms is prohibited. If you see either of these signs while strolling the commercial area, make sure you leave your handgun in your vehicle.
Lastly, some rodeos feature a barbeque cook-off with booths of vendors making and selling their own barbeque and other foods, and vendors may be selling alcohol as well. Carrying a concealed handgun is generally allowed in this area, but the situation can be trickier, as each individual booth may hang their own 30.06 or 51% sign. Booths with either 30.06 or 51% signs are off-limits for CHL holders, while carrying in booths without the signs is okay.
As a side note, if you are carrying concealed and for some reason, management approaches you to tell you that your concealed handgun is not allowed on the premises, you must either leave the property, or find a way to store your handgun off of the premises. Failure to do so may result in you being charged with criminal trespass.
As you can see, carrying a concealed handgun at the livestock show and rodeo is generally prohibited in most areas. Depending on which part of the event grounds you plan on visiting, you may or may not want to leave your concealed carry handgun in your car. If you choose to bring your concealed carry handgun with you to the grounds, be on the lookout for 30.06 and 51% signs.