On Nov. 8, the Railroad Commission of Texas, the state regulatory agency that oversees oil and gas leases and wells, voted unanimously that the right to carry concealed handguns for personal protection should extend to all Concealed Handgun License holders.
"(Railroad Commission) employees often work alone in remote and desolate areas of the state where they may encounter criminals or dangerous wild animals," Commissioner Barry Smitherman said in a statement. "The least we can do is allow them to exercise their legal right to carry firearms in accordance with state law."
The Railroad Commission policy will allow properly licensed employees to carry concealed weapons on state property and in state-owned vehicles.
A similar change was made to the firearms policy of the General Land Office in 2003, according to that agency's director, Jerry Patterson.
"It just makes sense," Patterson told the Texas Tribune this week, adding that his agency and the Railroad Commission, "have a lot of employees who work out in the sticks, if you will," including along the volatile border between the U.S. and Mexico.
Commissioner Smitherman, who was appointed by Gov. Rick Perry earlier this year, said he consulted with Patterson extensively before recommending the change in policy. He said he hopes other state agencies will follow the lead of the GLO and Railroad Commission.
Currently, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality's policy prohibits "carrying firearms, concealed or unconcealed, or other weapons while performing TCEQ official business in the field or in the office." In addition, the Texas Public Utility Commission prohibits "an employee to possess a firearm, ammunition, or explosive while on the premises of the PUC."