State Rep. Harold Dutton, Jr. (D-Houston) has filed House Bill (HB) 956, which would trim a few restricted locations off the Texas Penal Code chapter dealing with weapons and where Texans can legally carry them. Dutton’s bill would remove bars, houses of worship, and amusement parks from the list of areas where knives are not allowed.
The legislation alters the very piece of text Dutton added to the law himself four years ago. State Rep. John Frullo (R-Lubbock) introduced his HB 1935 as a simple legalization of all knives by purging the term “illegal knife” from the books, but Dutton swapped in the term “location-restricted knife” with a list of places where those knives would be banned. Dutton’s amendment successfully rode HB 1935 into law in 2017, and now his current bill would remove some of the restricted locations from the list he added.
Currently, the places where knives are prohibited fall into two categories.
First are the places where Texas law has prohibited weapons in general for years, a category that includes schools, polling places, airports, courts, racetracks, and locations designated “as a place of execution… on a day that a sentence of death is set to be imposed.”
Second is the newer group of restricted places that made their way into the Texas Penal Code when Dutton tacked them onto HB 1935: bars, jails, hospitals, amusement parks, places of worship, and the premises of “a sporting event or interscholastic event.” Dutton’s bill slims down this newer section of code that he authored and would let Texans carry knives at a bar, in the pew, or in an amusement park.
Dutton’s new bill applies only to knives with a blade above five and a half inches, which were formerly illegal to carry around before the passage of HB 1935. Location restrictions do not apply to shorter knives.
HB 956 is the only weapons-related bill that Dutton has filed for this legislative session so far. It shares some similarities with a bill filed by Rep. Drew Springer (R-Muenster) that would expand the places where gun owners with a License to Carry permit may carry their firearms.
In the last legislative session, Rep. Joe Moody (D-El Paso) wrote a bill that successfully legalized clubs and brass knuckles.
Currently, the Texas Penal Code outlaws bombs, machine guns, short-barrel rifles or shotguns, armor-piercing rounds, zip guns, silencers, “tire deflation devices,” and “chemical dispensing” weapons.