EDITOR’S NOTE: This article reflects a clarification May 14 of the license to carry concealed firearms and open carry laws as detailed by state law.
STAFF WRITER CONNIE SWINNEY
MARBLE FALLS — Authorities are looking for the owner of a firearm left in a closed container at an H-E-B checkout lane May 10, sparking concerns about public safety and whether the owner violated gun laws, officials said.
According to a Marble Falls Police Department report, a customer left behind a .22-caliber handgun, concealed within a “green canvas pencil bag,” at about 3 p.m. It was eventually discovered by the cashier.
“The bigger part of this is public safety,” Capt. Glenn Hanson said. “It’s horrible to think about, but what if a child found it or someone with criminal intent found it?”
Investigators said what was also troubling is the bag remained at the H-E-B Business Center for several hours until store officials looked inside and found the firearm.
“No one looked inside it for about three hours,” Hanson said. “The employees saw that it had a pistol in it. They called the police.”
Investigators conducted a firearm serial number check and do not believe the weapon is stolen.
Authorities want to sift through store surveillance video for more clues.
If the owner can prove he or she has a license to carry (LTC) permit, that person could receive penalties for a state gun law “administrative violation,” Hanson said.
“Something like this may be an administrative violation. The state can revoke that person’s license to carry,” he added.
State law details how license holders must carry firearms, according to Section 46.02 subchapter H, Ch. 411 in the Texas Penal Code.
For those who open carry, license holders are required to carry the firearm in a shoulder or hip holster.
H-E-B stores only allow LTC holders to carry concealed firearms, according to the the stores opted posting of a 30.07 sign, which bars open carry of handguns in accordance with state law.
However, LTC holder can carry concealed anywhere on their person, including in a purse or bag of some sort, but trouble arises if the firearm holder fails to keep possession of the firearm.
“You cannot be a felon (carrying a weapon) either, and you definitely cannot carry it around in the grocery store,” he said.
The police department is taking the incident seriously and offered a word of caution to the public.
“There’s a great responsibility with carrying a firearm. Make sure you do it legally and responsibly,” Hanson said. “What pops into my mind over any issues about what we’re going to file (against the owner) is the safety of our public.”