Texas Gun Laws: A guide
We love our guns in Texas. Some may even go as far as saying that “We are Texas because of guns.”
According to Texas law, people have a right to bear arms for legal self-defense. But that doesn’t mean gun owners can do anything with a firearm.
There are rules and regulations in the lone star state that govern the way all gun owners should handle firearms or even if they should own one in the first place.
In this guide, we provide you with the basics of Texas gun laws. In case you choose to own a firearm or handle one while in Texas, this information will help y’all stay on the right side of the law. Here goes;
1. There is an age limit
In Texas, you must be at least 18 years old to own a firearm.
You must be at least 18 years to buy a long arm, and 21 years to buy a handgun. One is only allowed to buy a firearm from a federally licensed gun dealer.
As a resident of Texas, you are not expected to register a handgun or long arm.
2. You need a license
Just because you lawfully purchased a firearm, doesn’t mean you can move around with it as you please. Under Texas law, if you carry your gun out of your property, you should have a License To Carry.
The only times you can handle a gun and not need a license are;
- When you are in your own property e.g., a condo, apartment, house, farm, ranch, or any other residential place that you own, reside in or are visiting as a guest or;
- When you are on your way to or in a boat or motor vehicle that you own.
The age limit for one to get a Licence To Carry is 21 years for regular citizens and 18 years for those in the military. The license is valid for 5 years.
3. Requirements for a License To Carry in Texas
Before you get a gun license in Texas, there are some requirements you should fulfill.
- Undergo a 4-6 hour gun safety training course and pass. The course is meant to show you how to take care of the gun and use it properly.
- Go through a background check to ascertain whether you have a criminal record that can prevent you from owning a gun
- Have no pending judgments that make you a delinquent. For example, being behind on your child support payments or tax payments.
- Have a conviction for a felony or a Class A or B misdemeanor
- Be a fugitive from justice for a Class A or B misdemeanor or a felony
- Be dishonorably discharged from the army
- Be in the country legally. You cannot get a license if you are in the country illegally or under a non-immigrant visa.
- You should not be an addict of controlled or illegal drugs or suffer from a psychiatric condition
- Be unable to exercise sound judgment when it comes to proper handling and storage of a firearm.
- Have a restraining order against you concerning a property disagreement or spousal disagreement
More on requirements for a Right To Carry license here.
4. Non – resident right to carry guns
If you are not a resident of Texas, it doesn’t mean you cannot carry a firearm, you have to apply for a non -resident license. Texas has a reciprocity agreement with 31 states outlined here.
To apply for a non -resident permit you need;
- A color copy of your ID card or driver’s license
- A handgun proficiency certificate that is no older than two years
5. There are places you cannot carry a gun in Texas
Regardless of whether you have a gun license or not, there are places you cannot carry a firearm in Texas unless you are a law officer on duty or a volunteer on emergency duty. These off-limit areas include;
- Schools, colleges, or anywhere school activities are going on
- In a secure airport
- In nursing homes or hospital
- At polling station during voting
- In court offices or correctional facilities
- In a place of worship such as a church or synagogue
- At a race track, permanent amusement park, or anywhere a professional sporting or interscholastic event is being held.
- Any business that derives 51% of its income from the sale of alcoholic beverages that are consumed on the premises, and;
- As from 2001, anywhere within 1000ft of a place of execution on a day when the execution is scheduled to happen.
In some of the areas mentioned above, a gun holder must be given notice, or there must be a posted signage to make it illegal to have a firearm on the premises. These are;
- An amusement park
- Places of worship
- A hospital or nursing home
- At a government meeting
Not all “no weapons” signs are enforceable by law. As per law, only 30.06/30.07 signs can be used by property owners to prohibit the possession of guns on their premises.
Learn more about where you are allowed to carry a firearm in Texas here.
6. Handle your gun the correct way
So, you have a gun and a license to carry, does that mean you can openly walk around with the weapon out in the open? No. Openly carried handguns must be carried “in a shoulder or belt holster” that is “on or about the person.”
Whenever you have your gun in public in Texas, it should always be concealed or in a holster. You are not allowed to openly handle the weapon in public unless you need to protect yourself. However, you can openly carry a sidearm while hunting.
When in a vehicle, you should keep your firearm concealed in a safe place such as your glove compartment or a safety box.
7. The “peaceable journey” and “castle doctrine” laws
Some rules provide exceptions to legislation set out on the use and handling of firearms in Texas.
For example, as per the “castle doctrine,” a homeowner can use deadly force as protection against unlawful or forced entry. Meaning, if you use a gun to protect yourself against an intruder in your home, it is justified under Texas law.
As a property owner, you also have a right to order anyone in possession of a firearm off your property.
There is also the “peaceable journey” law that allows non – Texas residents to possess a loaded gun when passing through the state in a car or watercraft. The only thing to ensure is that the weapon is safely concealed in the vehicle or watercraft at all times.
These are a few rules and regulations on possession and use of firearms in Texas. Although this guide is informative, you should seek the services of a lawyer if you have any queries on gun laws, especially when facing a firearm possession charges for in-depth advice.