Texas Gun Laws
Are you an advocate for 2nd Amendment or an activist for gun control?
Do you agree “guns don’t kill people…” or do you agree with Chris Rock’s “bullet control” theory?
Regardless of where you fall on this hotly contested issue, regardless of your beliefs, if you reside in Texas you reside in a pro-gun state.
What follows is an explanation of Texas gun laws as of today’s writing, including amendments that will go into effect for 2016.
Legal Definitions to Know
“Firearm” means what you think it means. A “Handgun” means what you think it means.
Who Can’t Own A Gun?
Federal Law is more restrictive than Texas Law. You should be aware of both.
Under Federal Law you cannot own a gun if you:
- have been convicted of a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year (lifetime ban, unless released from this provision by a court order or pardon);
- have been convicted of domestic violence;
- are a fugitive (i.e. on the run);
- are an unlawful alien or renounced U.S. Citizenship;
- received dishonorable discharge from the armed forces;
- are subject to a restraining order/protective order against an intimate partner or child of an intimate partner;
- have been adjudicated as a mental defective, been committed to a mental institution or are an unlawful user of, or addicted to any controlled substance.
Under Texas Law you cannot own a gun if you:
- have been previously convicted of a felony (exception for deferred adjudication and the ban extends for five years from the latest of your prison release date or release from community supervision);
- have a domestic violence conviction (same five year eligibility requirement as above);
- are subject to a restraining order or protective order.
If you passed the first section and are legally allowed to own a gun, then…
Do: Carry a handgun on your person if you are licensed to carry and the handgun is concealed or in a holster (beginning 2016).
Do: Transport a handgun in your car if you are licensed and it is in your holster.
Do: Carry or transport a shotgun or rifle.
Texas law permits most persons to carry or transport shotguns or rifles regardless of whether the firearm is concealed or in plain view.
Do: Keep your gun in a locked container or on “safety” at home.
Tex. Pen. Code. Section 46.13 makes it a crime if a child under the age of 17 is able to gain access to a firearm at your home.
Do: Feel safe to bring your weapon with you on a hunting or fishing trip. So long as the weapon is one commonly used in that activity.
Do: Bring your gun on a road trip (but keep your road trip in Texas).
Do: Bring your handgun with you to and from work (as long as it is not done habitually and you have permission from the owner of the premises).
The Do Nots (excluding some of the obvious)
Do Not: Transport a handgun in your car or someone else’s car in plain view (license or not).
Do Not: Carry while intoxicated (license or not).
Do Not: Carry into Six Flags, Sea World, or any amusement park (license or not).
Do Not: Carry into church (license or not).
Do Not: Carry into a liquor store, bar, restaurant, convenience store, or any licensed to sell alcohol or with a sign like that looks like this…
Do Not: Sell, rent, loan, or give a handgun to a child.
There is a provision allowing a person to sell, rent, loan, or give a handgun to a child, if you have written consent from the parents. The safer practice is to stay clear.
Do Not: Carry into a racetrack.
Do Not: Carry into a sporting event.
Do Not: Carry into a school or school sponsored event.
An exception is discussed below regarding public and private colleges.
Public and Private Universities:
Beginning in 2016 licensed handgun owners may carry concealed handguns in permitted areas of universities. Public universities are required to implement regulations and notices for such areas. Private institutions may opt out all together prohibiting handguns. Displaying your handgun or showing off your handgun is not allowed.
Defending your home and property:
A popular question for any defense attorneys.
You can stand your ground and defend your home and property with force, even deadly force, provided you believe deadly force is immediately necessary to protect yourself or someone has broken into your home.
In certain circumstances this law extends to your neighbor’s property as well.
The above is the “cliff-notes” edition of general gun rights in Texas. Rights, duties, and responsibilities under both Federal Law and Texas Law may change at any time. Staying on top of current gun laws is necessary to ensure you are responsibly carrying.