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Thread: Texas zoos (Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston)

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    Texas zoos (Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston)

    Apparently there is a conspiracy among zoos to exclude carriers.
    We have extensively discussed the issue here and elsewhere, and as OC comes to Texas, the following new law (that I did not know had passed) is on the DPS radar and applies directly to these zoos. They are all publicly owned and typically operated by a private group.
    Because the law already prohibits 30.06 from applying to public property with very few exception, the 30.06 (and I'm expecting 30.07 shortly) are invalid, and as of September will be illegal.
    The zoos also claim to be both schools and amusement parks (wouldn't you love to have gone to grade school at a zoo/amusement park?) but these claims are untrue by observation. The legislature has been clear that only the very limited places where things like a day care or school classes are held can be posted.
    So, here is the DPS summary of the new rule:
    Quote Originally Posted by Texas DPS web
    Senate Bill 273 Effective September 1, 2015

    Caption: Relating to certain offenses relating to carrying concealed handguns on property owned or leased by a governmental entity; providing a civil penalty.

    Prohibits a state agency or political subdivision from posting signs stating where CHL holders are prohibited from carrying a concealed handgun on the premises, unless specifically prohibited by Texas Penal Code 46.03 and 46.035.
    Provides a civil penalty to a state agency or political subdivision if falsely notifying a CHL holder that entering or remaining on certain governmental premises, leased or owned, is illegal.
    Limits the scope of the governmental meeting prohibition by restricting it to the specific room or rooms in which the meeting is being held, and to public meetings for which notice is required under the Open Meetings Act.
    Provides an opportunity for the agency or subdivision to cure the violation within three business days of receipt of written notice from a citizen.
    Complaints of a violation are reported to the Attorney General Office.
    Provides the Attorney General must give notice to the agency or subdivision and provide an opportunity to cure the violation before a civil penalty is imposed.

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    Looks like the Texas zoos are trying to mimic those in Missouri with their infelicitous excuses. Both are going to lose and take money out of the taxpayer's pocket to pay for lost civil suits.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Grapeshot View Post
    Looks like the Texas zoos are trying to mimic those in Missouri with their infelicitous excuses. Both are going to lose and take money out of the taxpayer's pocket to pay for lost civil suits.
    I've emailed the zoo manager and will be taking it to the city attorney in person. I don't expect much, since the current Dallas mayor and police chief are not exactly keen on gun rights. I did tell the zoo manager that since the sign currently posted in invalid (and would soon be illegal), most concealed carriers were still carrying at the zoo and we were all ignoring the invalid sign.

    We have been watching the St Louis zoo debacle, but this issue has been on our radar for 10 years. The last time I went to the zoo (carrying) the sign was beyond the ticket booth and inside the zoo, past the entry. It was a Saturday during the summer, so any claim of school activities fails. The amusement park claim is based on a carousel, a kids train, and a transportation monorail. The Houston zoo makes the same claims, but the amusement park claim fails because our law says it has to be larger that a certain size and the zoo is not that big.

    I am also using the phrase "appears to be a conspiracy" since conspiracy to commit a lesser crime is a felony here.

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    Quote Originally Posted by nonameisgood View Post
    The zoos also claim to be both schools and amusement parks (wouldn't you love to have gone to grade school at a zoo/amusement park?) but these claims are untrue by observation.
    Well, they're not an amusement park:
    46.035 (f)(1):

    "Amusement park" means a permanent indoor or outdoor facility or park where amusement rides are available for use by the public that is located in a county with a population of more than one million, encompasses at least 75 acres in surface area, is enclosed with access only through controlled entries, is open for operation more than 120 days in each calendar year, and has security guards on the premises at all times. The term does not include any public or private driveway, street, sidewalk or walkway, parking lot, parking garage, or other parking area."

    And school is:
    46.11(c)(2)
    "(2) "School" means a private or public elementary or secondary school."

    And I don't think that simply holding a school activity somewhere within a zoo fits under 46.03(a)(1) in that they haven't closed public access to the entire zoo.
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    Previously, Dallas Zoo Management claimed they fit the definition of amusement park. It is their definition of amusement rides that is most comical because they are gated, enclosing 75 acres and open 120 days. (Zoo property is 75 acres, although I am checking now about the actual gated area size. They also claimed the education exemption based on the intermittent presence of school children on field trips.
    Neither holds much truth.


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    The Dallas zoo property is only 94 acres total. Subtract from that the parking lots and other non-gates areas and it probably doesn't meet the 75 acre requirement for an amusement park, although I think that being city property most likely already prohibits posting. At any rate, it is plain that the amusement park exclusion was originally to prohibit carry at places like Six Flags and Sea World, not a public zoo. At any rate, the old rule was to exclude carry within large amusement parks with large concentrations of people and it was a mandatory "do not carry" area. Over the years, that was changes to allow posting of the park but not a statutory prohibition, so the whole amusement park thing is a vestigial provision, just like the prohibition against carry in churches (which is also now permitted.)

    I find it very odd when I discuss this with people that their first reaction is horror that I would carry in the zoo, after which they all say something like "so you can shoot the animals?"
    What the heck goes on in people's minds? (That's rhetorical because the only answer is "very little.")

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    Quote Originally Posted by nonameisgood View Post
    The Dallas zoo property is only 94 acres total. Subtract from that the parking lots and other non-gates areas and it probably doesn't meet the 75 acre requirement for an amusement park, although I think that being city property most likely already prohibits posting. At any rate, it is plain that the amusement park exclusion was originally to prohibit carry at places like Six Flags and Sea World, not a public zoo. At any rate, the old rule was to exclude carry within large amusement parks with large concentrations of people and it was a mandatory "do not carry" area. Over the years, that was changes to allow posting of the park but not a statutory prohibition, so the whole amusement park thing is a vestigial provision, just like the prohibition against carry in churches (which is also now permitted.)

    I find it very odd when I discuss this with people that their first reaction is horror that I would carry in the zoo, after which they all say something like "so you can shoot the animals?"
    What the heck goes on in people's minds? (That's rhetorical because the only answer is "very little.")
    Yeah, they can be an amusement park as soon as they can cease being city property, and can then ALSO:
    - produce the required amusement ride compliance sticker showing that they've received permission to then operate as an amusement park by the Texas Department of Insurance
    - and with the insurance required by the Amusement Ride Safety Inspection and Insurance Act
    - and fully meet the requirements of the Texas Title 13 Occupations Code CHAPTER 2151 REGULATION OF AMUSEMENT RIDES, including producing inspection certificates
    - and have the required signage under Sec. 2151.105. SIGNAGE REQUIREMENTS that requires posting a sign at the entrance informing the public how to report an amusement ride that appears to be unsafe.

    Oh, and if they claim to be an amusement park but do not meet the requirements of all the above, they are prohibited by that same law from operating AND the person responsible can be charged with a Class B misdemeanor for EACH day that they operate.

    Let's see if they then still believe that they are an amusement park.

    Also, in addition to the above, If they're counting any public conveyance devices or coin operated rides, those don't count as amusement rides.

    *****CRAP****

    HOWEVER...I just found something as I was about to post this...and you're not going to like it....I'm leaving the above as information that might help someone else....but as much as I HATE to have to say it, they apparently ARE an amusement park. You can verify them as on the listing of this holding amusement park licenses at http://www.tdi.texas.gov/commercial/lcamuseinfo.html , at page 60, record 462.

    Sorry. They possibly may be missing signage required, but it seems that you cannot carry there.
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    Thank you. I've been looking for that. Amusement parks are no longer statutorily prohibited. The rule requires that they be posted and that they meet the size and days of operation restrictions.
    But, as I said previously, as city property in all three cases the posting may well not be valid anyway.


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    Quote Originally Posted by nonameisgood View Post
    Thank you. I've been looking for that. Amusement parks are no longer statutorily prohibited. The rule requires that they be posted and that they meet the size and days of operation restrictions.
    But, as I said previously, as city property in all three cases the posting may well not be valid anyway.


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    That would be good news -- but are you sure they are no longer prohibited? I'm looking at current Sec. 46.035 and it is still there in 46.035 (b)(5) "in an amusement park." As we've had so many new laws passed this session I may not be remembering this, but even still it wouldn't yet be law if it were just passed.

    Regarding the city property...I'm not a lawyer so am not qualified to say in any way, but I wonder how conflicting things like this play out as city cannot preempt under that law, however, if they legally meet the amusement park regulations....
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    Quote Originally Posted by Glockster View Post
    Yeah, they can be an amusement park as soon as they can cease being city property, and can then ALSO:
    - produce the required amusement ride compliance sticker showing that they've received permission to then operate as an amusement park by the Texas Department of Insurance
    - and with the insurance required by the Amusement Ride Safety Inspection and Insurance Act
    - and fully meet the requirements of the Texas Title 13 Occupations Code CHAPTER 2151 REGULATION OF AMUSEMENT RIDES, including producing inspection certificates
    - and have the required signage under Sec. 2151.105. SIGNAGE REQUIREMENTS that requires posting a sign at the entrance informing the public how to report an amusement ride that appears to be unsafe.

    Oh, and if they claim to be an amusement park but do not meet the requirements of all the above, they are prohibited by that same law from operating AND the person responsible can be charged with a Class B misdemeanor for EACH day that they operate.

    Let's see if they then still believe that they are an amusement park.

    Also, in addition to the above, If they're counting any public conveyance devices or coin operated rides, those don't count as amusement rides.

    *****CRAP****

    HOWEVER...I just found something as I was about to post this...and you're not going to like it....I'm leaving the above as information that might help someone else....but as much as I HATE to have to say it, they apparently ARE an amusement park. You can verify them as on the listing of this holding amusement park licenses at http://www.tdi.texas.gov/commercial/lcamuseinfo.html , at page 60, record 462.

    Sorry. They possibly may be missing signage required, but it seems that you cannot carry there.
    Amusement parks are only no-carry if they're posted 30.06, just like anywhere else. The idiotic thing about them claiming that is that it's only a liability to them.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jordanmills View Post
    Amusement parks are only no-carry if they're posted 30.06, just like anywhere else. The idiotic thing about them claiming that is that it's only a liability to them.
    As soon as oral notice is given, then the requirements of 30.06 are met, regardless of there being any signage.

    However, I don't see how they could claim that someone with a holster only is in violation of anything.
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    Just checked their web site and what they have there doesn't meet the requirements of 30.06 as written communications (instead of the required 30.06 language they have, "May I bring a weapon to the Zoo? No. Under state law, the Zoo is considered both an amusement park and an educational institution, so concealed weapons aren’t allowed, even for licensed holders of concealed handgun permits."

    And if they don't have a 30.06 sign at the gate, they don't meet that.

    But again, under 30.06 they meet the requirement if the ticket taker mumbles under their breath to each customer that guns are prohibited, and more importantly if you are told within the zoo by a security guard ("someone with apparent authority"), they you have been given oral notification and it is a violation if you then do not leave.
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    Quote Originally Posted by nonameisgood View Post
    Previously, Dallas Zoo Management claimed they fit the definition of amusement park. It is their definition of amusement rides that is most comical because they are gated, enclosing 75 acres and open 120 days. (Zoo property is 75 acres, although I am checking now about the actual gated area size. They also claimed the education exemption based on the intermittent presence of school children on field trips.
    Neither holds much truth.
    These claims are going to come back and bite them in the ass in a courtroom. All it is really doing is proving that they've been notified of their illegal attempts to disarm the public, yet are purposely continuing to do so.

    I carried at the San Antonio zoo last year. I don't remember any signs, and I think I did some research that had me believing it was quite settled and no one in the area had any issues with carrying there. This was all concealed, though, of course.
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    After looking thru the amusement ride registration, I don't think they can make that kind of claim without laughing. Else, there are restaurants which are amusement parks (acreage not withstanding.)
    46.035(i) requires effective notice before you are in violation.
    I previously contended that they may not be able to post notice on public property. Looking again at our f'ed up code, I see that amusement parks are on the same list as correctional facilities. This tells me that if they are treated the same, even if an amusement park is on public property it could be posted.
    So the question next come down to, "does the zoo meet the criteria for an amusement park?"
    At 94 acres, the Dallas Zoo might, but I am looking at the maps and I don't think the surface area without parking is 75 acres. Houston is only about 55, iirc. Fort Worth claims 64 acres.
    I also doubt that a claim to be an amusement park can be based on the use of one small area inside the much larger zoo. It would be like claiming the whole zoo is a restroom. I'm willing to bet the area used for that purpose is greater and more widespread than for the rides.


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    Quote Originally Posted by MAC702 View Post
    These claims are going to come back and bite them in the ass in a courtroom. All it is really doing is proving that they've been notified of their illegal attempts to disarm the public, yet are purposely continuing to do so.

    I carried at the San Antonio zoo last year. I don't remember any signs, and I think I did some research that had me believing it was quite settled and no one in the area had any issues with carrying there. This was all concealed, though, of course.
    San Antonio Zoo is also listed -- page 203, record 525 and so they are legally an amusement park according to TX.
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    Quote Originally Posted by nonameisgood View Post
    After looking thru the amusement ride registration, I don't think they can make that kind of claim without laughing. Else, there are restaurants which are amusement parks (acreage not withstanding.)
    46.035(i) requires effective notice before you are in violation.
    I previously contended that they may not be able to post notice on public property. Looking again at our f'ed up code, I see that amusement parks are on the same list as correctional facilities. This tells me that if they are treated the same, even if an amusement park is on public property it could be posted.
    So the question next come down to, "does the zoo meet the criteria for an amusement park?"
    At 94 acres, the Dallas Zoo might, but I am looking at the maps and I don't think the surface area without parking is 75 acres. Houston is only about 55, iirc. Fort Worth claims 64 acres.
    I also doubt that a claim to be an amusement park can be based on the use of one small area inside the much larger zoo. It would be like claiming the whole zoo is a restroom. I'm willing to bet the area used for that purpose is greater and more widespread than for the rides.


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    I would like to agree with you however, under the law, if they are designated and licensed, then they are an amusement park. And they don't have to be posted as long as they are willing to chase everyone down and give oral notice IF they see you or get a report of MWAG.

    IMHO, I think that the way to "fix" this is to challenge their permit/license or as you suggest their size. Frankly, I see lots of things on the state license listing that according to the statute shouldn't be given a permit under the code. And under the code, the 75 acres comes into play if it doesn't include the parking lot, etc. etc. So it comes down to them having 75 acres inside the fence. And they are also required to have a security guard at all times they are open. So there could well be ways to challenge it.

    ADDED: Not ever having been to Dallas or its zoo, does anyone know if perhaps they have the required language on the back of their tickets as some places do. They only have to have the English language, and not the dual language and size stuff required on signage.
    Last edited by Glockster; 07-11-2015 at 09:04 AM.
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    For anyone in the Houston area, the Houston Zoo is NOT on the list.

    And as it was mentioned above, Fort Worth Zoo IS on the list.
    Last edited by Glockster; 07-11-2015 at 09:15 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by nonameisgood View Post
    After looking thru the amusement ride registration, I don't think they can make that kind of claim without laughing. Else, there are restaurants which are amusement parks (acreage not withstanding.)
    Yeah, for example -- the Houston Aquarium is one of those, licensed as an amusement park, with only 6-acres. But in that case, they say that they are privately owned by Landry's Restaurants and so can post a 30.06 if they want. But color me curious how two historic City of Houston landmarks (owned by the City of Houston -- the Fire Station No. 1 and the Central Waterworks Plant -- came to become private property.
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    I don't think the presence of amusements registered with the Texas department of insurance is the primary criteria for whether an entire place is an amusement park (in addition to the 46.035 requirements). During the debates this year, there was discussion (on the record) that establishes legislative intent for campus carry. In this text, they discuss how a college cannot declare whole campuses or even single buildings to be a day care when only one or two rooms are used for that purpose. The default is to allow carry and then carve out specific areas in which carry will be prohibited.
    I have not yet delved into the original conversations that resulted in the amusement park requirements.


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    410 Bagby in Houston, the Houston downtown aquarium is owned by the city of Houston. Regardless of who operates it. 30.06 postings would be invalid unless another prohibition applies.


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    Quote Originally Posted by nonameisgood View Post
    I don't think the presence of amusements registered with the Texas department of insurance is the primary criteria for whether an entire place is an amusement park (in addition to the 46.035 requirements). During the debates this year, there was discussion (on the record) that establishes legislative intent for campus carry. In this text, they discuss how a college cannot declare whole campuses or even single buildings to be a day care when only one or two rooms are used for that purpose. The default is to allow carry and then carve out specific areas in which carry will be prohibited.
    I have not yet delved into the original conversations that resulted in the amusement park requirements.


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    From what I read that's a yes/no. They are listed as having the required amusement park licenses, under the provisions that cover amusement parks. However, under the portions of code that are gun related, they have to meet all of those requirements for the gun prohibitions to come to play. I hear what you're saying about the legislative debates and not being able to declare an entire campus as a GFZ...but I haven't found anything, anywhere that stipulates that an amusement park must have x number of rides to be one, or that a percentage of that 75 acres must be rides of either Class A or Class B. I think that clearly the laws regarding amusement parks, cities creating them, and what then impacts OC/CC are way behind the times. and I think that is he kind of thing that should become a priority in 2017.
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    Quote Originally Posted by nonameisgood View Post
    410 Bagby in Houston, the Houston downtown aquarium is owned by the city of Houston. Regardless of who operates it. 30.06 postings would be invalid unless another prohibition applies.


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    I went to the website directly and they say there that they are privately owned, not city owned and privately operated. Where did you find it listed as city owned?
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    Harris county central appraisal district. hcad.org


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    Quote Originally Posted by nonameisgood View Post
    Harris county central appraisal district. hcad.org


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    Great! Apparently another attempt to hide actual ownership. Also probably another one of those beat the rap but not the ride situations.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Glockster View Post
    For anyone in the Houston area, the Houston Zoo is NOT on the list.

    And as it was mentioned above, Fort Worth Zoo IS on the list.

    Was just checking out the Houston Zoo web site and under the "What items are not allowed on zoo grounds?" in their FAQs, they say:
    "For the safety of other zoo guests and our animals, pets, glass containers, alcohol, bikes, skates and skateboards, rollerblades, radios/CD players, whistles, and inflatable objects are not allowed on Zoo grounds."

    So they don't seem to have anything posted online to attempt to prohibit guns.
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