The Texas House Committee on Homeland Security & Public Safety will hear testimony Wednesday morning on a bill that would clarify where you can carry your handgun while evacuating during natural disasters and other emergencies.
“Let's say you get on someone's boat like in Harvey, it's not your boat but someone else's boat, now you're committing a crime. You get in someone else's car that's not yours, you're also committing a crime for carrying without a license,” says state Rep. Dade Phelan, R-Beaumont.
Phelan admits this really wasn't a problem in the wake of Harvey, but he proposed HB 1177 to ensure gun owners are not breaking any laws during future evacuations.
Many Harvey evacuees found themselves in temporary shelters at local schools or churches.
“You walk into a school with a firearm you could be charged with a felony because you're technically on school property without a license, but this would make certain that would not happen,” says Phelan.
Many times, he says Houston police created a safe room inside shelters to store firearms inside.
“When that person wanted to leave that shelter to either check on their home to see of the flood waters had receded, or to go to the store to get food or drug store to get medication they lost in the storm, if you had a license to carry you could check that gun back out, but if you didn't have a license to carry they kept that firearm.”
Phelan says HPD is among those scheduled to testify in support of his bill.