Friday, September 28, 2007

UPDATE on Dallas State Fair's New CHL Policy

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Apparantly, including the media in our last email was a good idea! I just received a call from a reporter at the Fox Affiliate in Dallas, KDFW, who had just gotten off of the phone with officials at the State Fair. According to the reporter, the State Fair has NOT changed their policy regarding patrons who have a Concealed Handgun License and are entering legally armed.

To recap what to expect, you need to notify the person with the wand (all incoming patrons are wanded) that you are armed and have a concealed handgun license. You will probably be escorted to a point just inside the fence, where you will be asked to wait for a supervisor. Depending on how crowded the park is, you will wait for anywhere from a few minutes on up (I have heard of one member who left after waiting in vain for 45 minutes, but this seems to be an extreme example). The supervisor will verify that your license is valid, and on my only visit to the park armed, the number of my CHL and name were recorded on a notepad. In my case, on a weekday afternoon, the whole process took about 5-10 minutes.

Going through this process, while certainly annoying, will at least allow you to be able to defend yourself during your time of greatest vulnerability, which is the walk to and from the parking areas, since Dallas Fair Park is in one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in the city.

If anyone does encounter any difficulty in carrying a handgun legally at the State Fair of Texas, please contact our office immediately at 972-889-8772, and we will take whatever actions necessary to see that this important right does not get interrupted.

I am writing to you today to let you know of a possible change in policy by the State Fair Foundation, regarding CHL Carry at the State Fair of Texas. In years past, CHL holders were allowed to carry after displaying their CHL to a supervisor brought to the front gate for that purpose. We have reason to believe that policy may be undergoing revision, but cannot yet confirm it. We also have no confidence whatsoever of getting a straight answer out of State Fair officials.

Our source of information is the following message posted to the Texas CHL Forum:

We just attended our orientation meeting for all the officers that will be working the State Fair this year. One important change to this year's event is that CHL holders will not be allowed to carry firearms while in the Fair this year. This is a big change from previous years that you will need to prepare for. This is not a DPD rule or policy - this comes from the State Fair management.

We were told that if someone comes into the fair with a gun and they have a CHL that there will be no LE action taken against them as they have not broken any state laws. However, a representative of the State Fair will be contacted and the violator will be detained until they arrive. Once the State Fair representative arrives the violator will be informed once again of this new policy and asked to remove their gun from the premises. If they refuse to do so then they will be given a Criminal Trespass warning and if they refuse at that time to leave, or return back to the fair grounds this year they will be arrested. I can also pretty well assure that their weapon will be seized and a report made to DPS.

Anyway, I wanted to let as many of you know as soon as I found out since the Fair opens tomorrow. I can just imagine that there will be quite a few people parking some distance from the fair grounds and being stopped at the gate regarding this new policy. They will be faced with a long trek back to their vehicle, or if they took DART to the fair they will have to spend money and time to return to some location where they can safely store their gun.

Also, be prepared for longer lines at the entrances due to the extra security of wanding every person and searching all of their belongings. If you do decide to come and visit have a great time as there are a lot of new attractions, rides and food vendors this year.

We are presenting this information to you as quickly as possible as a warning, so that you will not find yourself in a predicament. If you do wish to attend the State Fair with your legally carried firearm, be prepared for this new policy to be enacted. If you are ordered to leave, do not risk your CHL by refusing to do so. But we are sharing this information, so that you can prepare yourself for the eventuality of having to walk back to your car to store your firearm, or leave entirely if you utilize DART transportation (since you will have no place to store your firearm).

Remember, if given instructions or a trespass warning by the State Fair officials, please follow them. If the Fair personnel insist on attempting to change their long-standing CHL policy, which has not resulted in a single incident or injury, then we will take this issue up with the State Legislature in 2009.

Questions regarding this message can be directed to the Texas State Rifle Association at 972-889-8772.

James Dark

Executive Director

Texas State Rifle Association

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