Texas Gun Laws

Gun Laws in Texas

As of September 1, 2021, Texas residents aged 21 and above now have the legal right to openly carry handguns in a holster without a permit, thanks to HB1927. This new law replaces the 2016 open carry law, furthering gun rights by eliminating the need for a license for carrying. With these revised regulations, Texans can now freely exercise their Second Amendment rights with confidence and understanding of the law.

Who can carry?

Texas has long allowed citizens to open-carry rifles without any special licensing requirements. However, it is important to recognize that there are restrictions in place that regulate where firearms can be taken. Carrying a gun on a school campus, an airport, a federal building, or any business displaying a sign prohibiting the possession of guns will all result in legal penalties. Therefore, it is essential to remain knowledgeable about the places where firearms are prohibited to avoid unwanted repercussions.

In Texas, there are several legal requirements one must meet in order to purchase a handgun. Individuals must be at least twenty-one years old, not have been convicted of a felony or certain misdemeanors, and cannot have a protective order against them. However, background checks for private gun sales are not required by the state.

For long guns, such as rifles, including so-called “AR-style” firearms, which were used in high-profile mass shootings like those in Allen and Uvalde, the regulation is the same as federal law: they can be purchased at eighteen years old. Recently, efforts have been made to raise the age requirement for these types of firearms to 21. House Bill 2744 is presently being debated in the full House after clearing a Select Committee on Community Safety with an 8-5 vote. Governor Greg Abbott has previously stated he would not support this measure, however, the bill reaching a committee vote is still viewed as somewhat unusual. Regardless of the outcome, it is essential that Texans remain well-informed on current gun regulations in order to ensure their safety.

Texas Laws

Texas is bordered to the south by Mexico and the Gulf of Mexico, to the north by Oklahoma, to the west by New Mexico, and to the east by Arkansas and Louisiana. Texas is both the second most populous and the second most extensive of the U.S. Open carry is legal in Texas with a valid license to carry.

In Texas, you do not need a permit to purchase or carry a firearm, this includes shotguns and rifles. You must obtain a permit to carry a handgun. You must also be over 18 years of age to purchase and carry a firearm in the state of Texas.

Right to own – What can invalidate this?

Texas does not require its residents to have a license to carry a firearm, and any resident over the age of 18 is eligible to carry a firearm. There are a few things that can invalidate your right to own and carry a firearm. If you are a convicted felon, you are not able to carry a firearm. Also, if you have been convicted of a Class A misdemeanor against your family or household, you are not eligible to carry a firearm. There are also certain orders against the Family Code and Code of Criminal Procedure that can make you ineligible to carry a firearm.

State Constitution

Regarding the right to bear arms, the Texas Constitution states:

“Every citizen shall have the right to keep and bear arms in the lawful defense of himself or the State; but the Legislature shall have power, by law, to regulate the wearing of arms, with a view to prevent crime.”

Restoration of rights if taken away

If your right to carry a gun has been taken away, you can file a petition to get it restored. You must first apply for a pardon and then fill out an application to get your rights restored. These forms will be sent to the courts and they will either approve or deny your right to carry a firearm.

Registration requirements

Texas gun laws have undergone significant changes in 2021, allowing qualified individuals to carry handguns in public without a license. To be permitted to do so, one must be at least 21 years of age and can not have any prior criminal convictions or restraining orders against them. Long guns such as rifles and shotguns are also allowed by state law, though some individuals may be forbidden from owning them. In general, open carry of long guns is allowed in public spaces; however, certain places such as bars, polling stations, and schools are off-limits for firearms for obvious reasons. Additionally, it is important to remember that even if carrying a weapon is legal, it should still be done with caution and respect so as to not cause any disturbance or distress to the citizens around you.

Special requirements for owning a gun

There are no real special requirements for owning a gun in Texas. If you want to carry a concealed firearm, you need to go through the application process to get that approved. Because Texas does allow its residents to carry firearms, there are a few places you are not allowed to take a firearm. These include Courts, businesses that sell alcohol for consumption on-site, any type of school, nursing homes and hospitals, amusement parks, polling places on the day of an election, churches, race tracks, jails, and prisons, and secure areas of the airport. You can also not carry a firearm while you are drunk, and you must have it concealed at all times.

Texas is one of the most lenient states when it comes to firearms. All residents are eligible to own one unless they are felons. While there are certain places where firearms are not allowed, it is very common to see residents of Texas with shotguns and rifles in their cars.

Reciprocal Carry

By statute, Texas will recognize another state’s license to carry if that state recognizes Texas’ license:

“The governor shall negotiate an agreement with any other state that provides for the issuance of a license to carry a concealed handgun under which a license issued by the other state is recognized in this state or shall issue a proclamation that a license issued by the other state is recognized in this state if the AG of the State of Texas determines that a background check of each applicant for a license issued by that state is initiated by state or local authorities or an agent of the state or local authorities before the license is issued.”

Since there is no national carry license, as with the other states, some states are reciprocal with Texas and some are not. Anyone contemplating reciprocal carry should check with the official list maintained by the Texas AG at the point in time the reciprocal carry is to occur.

Duty to Inform Officers

Yes. If a license holder is carrying a handgun on or about the license holder’s person when a LEO demands that the license holder display identification, the license holder must display both their license to carry and driver’s license.

Carrying Firearms in Vehicles

Texas permits anyone who is legally allowed to possess firearms to carry them in vehicles without a permit. People without permits must keep handguns concealed and out of sight when in the vehicle.

Carry in Restaurants That Serve Alcohol

Yes, if you possess a valid concealed handgun license/permit and the establishment derives less than 51% of its income from the sale of alcohol for onsite consumption. If there is a “No Gun Sign,” You are prohibited from carrying into the establishment. You are prohibited from carrying while You consume alcohol or are under the influence of alcohol.

Open Carry

Open carry is legal in Texas, but You must have a license to carry issued by Texas or a permit/license that Texas honors. If open carrying, the firearm must either be in a shoulder holster or a belt holster. LEOs have the authority to ask if You have a permit/license to carry when open carrying. If asked, You must display Your license/permit.

Open carry is not allowed on the campuses of any four-year public college/university/Jr. or community colleges. Beginning August 1, 2017 public four-year universities and public two-year colleges must allow concealed carry in campus buildings. Universities are allowed to designate certain sensitive areas as “gun-free zones.”

Self-defense Laws

Texas has both Castle Doctrine and SYG laws. There is no duty to retreat from any place You have a legal right to be. You may use force, including deadly force, in defense of yourself or others if You reasonably believe it is necessary to prevent imminent death, SBI, the commission of a forcible felony, or to stop the unlawful & forcible entry into a dwelling, place of business, or occupied motor vehicle.

Criminal Provisions

In Texas it is unlawful to possess a firearm in the following prohibited places:

  • A license holder may carry concealed, but not openly, on the premises of an institute of higher education.
    • No private or public institution of higher education may enact any regulation prohibiting or restricting the storage or transportation of a firearm or ammunition in a locked, privately owned vehicle including a student enrolled at the institution
    • The president of institutions of higher education must develop reasonable rules and regulations governing the carrying of handguns by license holders on campus, and these rules must not have the effect of general prohibiting license holders from carrying on campus
    • An institute of higher education may develop rules and regulations governing the storage of handguns in dormitories and residential facilities owned or operated by that institution and located on its campus
  • On the premises of a polling place on the day of an election or while early voting is in progress
  • On the premises of any government court or offices utilized by the court, unless pursuant to written regulations or written authorization of the court
  • On the premises of a racetrack
  • In or into a secured area of an airport. Note that You cannot be arrested solely for possessing a handgun You’re licensed to carry in the secure part of an airport, unless You fail to leave immediately upon being asked to by a police officer
  • In or at any penal institution
  • Hotels unless the hotel has notified the guest upon reservation confirmation
  • A hospital
  • An amusement park
  • A church, synagogue, or other established place of religious worship
    • Beginning 9/1/17 an exemption exists for volunteers providing security at places of worship who have a LTC and are approved by the congregation leaders.
  • Within 1,000 feet of premises the location of which is designated by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice as a place of execution under Article 43.19, Code of Criminal Procedure, on a day that a sentence of death is set to be imposed on the designated premises and the person received notice
  • State agencies or political subdivisions are prohibited from posting signs prohibiting license holders from carrying on their premises, except for the locations listed above where carrying weapons is already prohibited
  • Carrying on the grounds or in the building of any K-12 school is prohibited.
  • Beginning September 1, 2017 employees of school districts, open-enrollment charter schools and private elementary schools who possess valid LTCs are permitted to transport and store firearms in their locked cars and trucks.

FAQs on Texas Gun Laws

Can I legally carry a gun in my vehicle in Texas?

Yes, you can legally carry a loaded handgun in your vehicle in Texas. However, you must adhere to all federal and state laws regarding the carrying of firearms. If you are stopped by law enforcement, you must inform the officer that you are in possession of a firearm before doing anything else.

What is the current gun law in Texas?

Texas’ new Constitutional Carry law, which took effect on September 1, 2021, allows residents aged 21 or older who meet certain requirements to lawfully carry handguns without needing a license or training. It is essential to understand the exceptions to this law, like locations where carrying a firearm is not allowed, in order to abide by the rules and stay safe when carrying without a license. Knowledge of the law and responsible gun ownership are key components to ensure everyone stays safe and informed.

The Texas Senate has recently taken action to close a loophole that allowed certain minors aged 16-18 to purchase guns without undergoing the proper checks. The gap, which resulted from misreporting by the courts to the Texas Department of Public Safety and then the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), allowed these minors to obtain firearms despite their involuntary mental health facility admissions. This legislation ensures that all future such admissions are accurately reported so that no further individuals are able to buy guns without going through the required procedure.

Is Texas a gun-friendly state?

Yes, Texas is considered one of the most gun-friendly states in the country. Open carry and concealed carry laws are more liberal than in other states and there is a wide range of firearm related activities available. Additionally, permits to purchase a handgun are not required, nor is any type of background check or license needed to buy or possess a handgun, shotgun, or rifle.

What state has the strictest gun laws?

California has some of the strictest gun laws in the United States. In California, individuals who wish to purchase a firearm must obtain a Firearm Safety Certificate (FSC) from the Department of Justice prior to making their purchase. In addition, background checks are required for all firearms sales, including private transactions.

Can I carry my gun anywhere in Texas?

No, you cannot carry your firearm everywhere in Texas. As mentioned above, certain places such as schools, churches, and sporting events have certain restrictions on firearms carry. You should also be aware of any local or municipal regulations as well. Additionally, if you do choose to conceal your weapon while carrying it, you must have a valid License To Carry (LTC).

Where can I put my gun in my car in Texas?

State law specifies that any loaded handguns may be kept locked away in glove boxes, consoles or utility compartments of your vehicle. Unloaded guns may be stored out of plain view on your vehicle’s trunk or outside body of the car.

 Is Texas a stand-your-ground state?

Yes, Texas is a stand your ground state which means that citizens are allowed to use deadly force in situations where they reasonably believe that their lives are threatened without having an obligation to retreat first.

Can you have a loaded pistol in your truck in Texas?

As long as it is properly secured and out of reach of everyone in the vehicle, it is legal to have a loaded pistol in your truck in Texas.

What guns are illegal to carry in Texas?

Machine guns, short-barreled shotguns or rifles, and silencers are all illegal to carry in Texas. Additionally, it is illegal for convicted felons to own or possess a firearm.

What disqualifies you from owning a gun Texas?

Convicted felons may not own or possess a firearm in Texas as well as people classified as being mentally ill or incompetent. Additionally, if you are unlawfully present in the U.S., you may not own or possess a gun in Texas.

Do you need a Texas ID to buy a firearm?

Yes, individuals must present proper identification (such as a driver’s license) when purchasing a firearm from a dealer or at an auction. The identification must display the individual’s name and address and must be issued by either a government entity within the United States or by an authorized representative.

What states are not gun-friendly?

States such as California, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Maryland, Massachusetts and Hawaii generally have tighter restrictions on the carrying and purchasing of firearms than other states.

What state is the easiest to own a gun?

Arizona is often seen as the easiest state to acquire and own firearms due to its liberal laws on concealed weapons and its lack of restriction on fully automatic weapons.

Which state in America has the weakest gun laws?

Alaska often has the weakest gun laws among all states due to its unrestricted policies on concealed carry without license and zero waiting period to purchase firearms.

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