At the start of the year, the new “open carry” state law in Texas went into effect, and while that means more legally licensed gun owners can openly carry their guns in public, there still are some restrictions in certain locations, including at airports.
In an effort to clarify what this means to passengers and visitors at the Houston Airport System’s three facilities — George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH), William P. Hobby Airport (HOU) and Ellington Airport (EFD) — it is important to remember the following points:
The open carry law allows Texans who possess proper licensing to carry guns openly in a properly secured shoulder or belt holster, or concealed with the proper license.
Properly licensed and displayed guns, as well as gun owners with a concealed license, can have their gun in public areas only, like baggage, ticketing, garages and public sidewalks or walkways. Firearms are not allowed on the secure side of terminal areas — the areas beyond TSA checkpoints.
Unlicensed firearms, like long guns — i.e., rifles or shotguns — cannot be carried into the public areas of the airport, like the terminals, garages, or public walkways.
Gun owners can transport unloaded firearms — both hand guns and long guns — in a locked hard-sided container as checked baggage only. Owners must declare the firearm to the airline when checking bags at the ticket counter. The container must completely secure the firearm from being accessed. Locked cases that can be easily opened will not be accepted. Owners also should be aware that cases supplied when purchasing a firearm may not be appropriate for securing the firearm when flying. You can learn more about traveling with your gun at the TSA website link.
City of Houston regulations prohibit employees, tenants and contractors, and volunteers from carrying weapons while on duty or on City premises, unless they are required to do so in the performance of their official duties.
As in the past, employees, tenants and contractors, and volunteers are not prohibited from transporting or storing a firearm or ammunition in a locked, privately owned motor vehicle in a parking lot, parking garage, or other parking areas provided by the employer.
Signage is posted at the entrances and exits of all terminals and public buildings at the airports, informing gun owners of the restrictions in place at all airport property public areas.
Learn more about the new “open carry” law at the Texas Department of Public Safety website.