Associations Target Community Gun Control
Gun rights can trigger emotional responses on both sides of the issue, and the debate is becoming more common among community associations, as they aim to protect themselves. But even when a community is largely in agreement about the need to restrict firearm possession on the property, it might not have the power to do so. And if it does, there are reasons that could dictate another path.
Associations in Texas don’t actually have the option these days. In June 2019, the state enacted a new law barring property owners associations from prohibiting or restricting the lawful possession, transportation, or storage of firearms, parts of firearms, or ammunition, as well as the otherwise lawful discharge of a firearm. S.B. 741 took effect Sept. 1, 2019.
“Associations started passing rules to keep everyone from carrying in common areas after concealed carry became legal,” says Marc Markel, a shareholder in the Texas-based law firm Roberts Markel Weinberg Butler Hailey PC. “But the problem is that ‘concealed carry’ means you can’t see it, so how do you enforce the rules?”
When the open carry of handguns became legal in 2016, Markel says, “Everyone was freaking out. They thought people would walk around associations brandishing guns. That didn’t happen, but associations passed rules and regulations against open and concealed carry in common areas.”
Now those rules and regulations are null and void. “So many associations have entered into the business of attempting to regulate possession of weapons in the past,” Markel says, “and those rules and regulations are no longer enforceable — if they ever were.”
In Florida, on the other hand, no state law specifically prohibits associations from restricting firearms. That doesn’t necessarily mean associations are free to do so, though.
To learn more about how associations can tackle the issue of firearm regulation, read our new article: In the Crosshairs: Can — and Should — Your Clients Regulate Firearm Possession?