Texas Gun Laws in 2023: A Quick Guide

Texas Gun Laws 2022

We love our guns in Texas. Some may even go as far as saying that “We are Texas because of guns.” However, it is vital for every citizen of the this great state and visitors to understand Texas gun laws.

According to state law and the second amendment, the people of Texas have a right to bear arms. 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 you should handle firearms or even if you should own one in the first place. 

In this guide, we provide you with the basics of Texas gun laws in 2023. Gun laws are constantly evolving and some things have changed over the past couple years. 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.

1. Who can own a gun in Texas? 

Texas is a shall-issue state. This means that anyone who meets the basic requirements of gun ownership as set out by the state, the issuing authority, be it the county sheriff or police department, is obligated to issue a permit.

Age limit

You must be at least 18 years old to own a firearm in Texas.  

You must be at least  18 years old to buy a long arm, and 21 years to buy a handgun. 

However, as of September 2021, an 18-20yr old can buy a handgun under certain conditions. H.B. 918 allows young adults at least 18 years of age but not yet 21 years of age to be eligible for a handgun license if the person meets all other license requirements except the minimum age. 

Can a felon own a gun in Texas?

Under federal law, anyone who has been convicted of a crime punishable by longer than one year is prohibited from possessing a firearm. 

However, Section 46.04 of the Texas Penal Code, allows a felon to possess a firearm in their home after five years have passed since the completion of their sentence, parole, or probation.

2. What guns can you own in Texas?

You can own and possess many different types of guns in Texas. 

However, there are a few exceptions. Section 46.05 of the Texas Penal Code outlines the following as prohibited weapons unless they are registered in the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record;

  • An explosive weapon
  • a machine gun
  • a short-barrel firearm 
  • Armor-piercing ammunition
  • Chemical dispensing device
  • A zip gun
  • A tire deflation device
  • An improvised explosive device

3. Where can you carry a gun in Texas?

Texas gun laws have specific regulations on where you can and cannot carry your firearm.

Permitless carry

As of 1st September 2021, if you qualify under the law you do not require a license to carry (LTC) to carry a handgun in public. Permitless carry is also known as constitutional carry. 

However, you can still apply for an LTC. There are many benefits of a License to Carry

Open carry

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. 

Carrying a gun in your vehicle

In Texas, you can carry a handgun in your vehicle or a vehicle “under your control” if you are otherwise allowed to possess a firearm. However, there are some exceptions. 

  • If the handgun is in “plain view,” you must be over 21 or have a License to Carry (LTC). Additionally, the firearm must be in a holster. 

House Bill 1927 eliminated the requirement to have a License to Carry (LTC) to keep a handgun in plain view within a vehicle.

Minimum age of concealed carry

Texas has permitless carry. Therefore, any person 21 years of age and older who can legally possess a firearm, may carry a concealed firearm without a license or permit. 

However, in a most recent ruling (Aug 2022), a federal judge has struck down the provision that barred adults under the age of 21 from carrying handguns unless under specially allowed circumstances. 

This case was brought by two individuals under the age of 21 and the Firearms Policy Coalition.

Judge Pittman ruled that the prohibition of adults under the age of 21 to carry handguns was unconstitutional and violated the second amendment.

College carry laws

Texas law allows persons to carry concealed handguns on college campuses. However, there are exceptions. If a portion of a campus of a private institution has established rules prohibiting concealed handguns in a specific area, they must post proper notices about the prohibition.

According to Texas Penal Code § 46.03, it’s a crime for a license holder to carry a handgun openly (even in a holster) on campus of any institution of higher education that has prohibited open carry and has posted proper notices. 

Duty to inform law enforcement

A “duty to inform” law generally requires you to notify an officer that you are carrying a gun and that you have a license or permit to do so when the officer temporarily detains you. 

However, although Texas observes constitutional carry, it is always prudent to let a police officer know that you are carrying a firearm. This duty extends to any situation in which you are being asked to produce identification or are being held temporarily. Explaining that you are armed ensures that all parties are aware and no surprises crop up. 

Out of state visitors

If you are not a resident of Texas, you may carry your firearm if you are legally licensed under your state and federal laws. Texas has a reciprocity agreement with 31 states outlined here

BeTo 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

According to the Texas Law Library, “The Texas legislature passed House Bill 1927 in the spring of 2021, which eliminates the requirement to have an LTC in Texas. HB 1927 was signed into law by Texas Governor Greg Abbott on June 16th, 2021, and went into effect on September 1st, 2021. This bill does not include language addressing the reciprocity agreements in place for certain out-of-state visitors who wish to carry a handgun in Texas.”

The “peaceable journey” law allows non – Texas residents to possess a loaded gun when passing through the state in a car or watercraft. However, your weapon must be safely concealed in the vehicle or watercraft at all times.

Where can you NOT carry a gun in Texas?

Texas Gun Laws 2022
Where can you NOT 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 posted signage to make it illegal to have a firearm on the premises. These are;

  • Amusement parks
  • Places of worship
  • A hospital or nursing home
  • At a government meeting

Not all  “no weapons” signs are enforceable by law. You can only use 30.06/30.07 signs to prohibit the possession of guns on your premises.

To learn more about where you are allowed to carry a firearm in Texas, click here.

Self defense in Texas 

The “castle doctrine” laws

Texas is a “castle doctrine” and “stand your ground” state. This means that as a homeowner you can use deadly force as protection against unlawful or forced entry. 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.

Additionally, you can use force and deadly force in defense of a third person and their property.

Public safety in Texas

Unfortunately, there have been a number of mass shootings in Texas including the Walmart incident in El Paso in 2019 and the most recent at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde. There are also a significant number of gun violence incidents.

These incidents have seen increased calls for stricter gun laws including comprehensive background checks. 

However, many advocates rightly point out that gun rights are protected in the second amendment and that access to guns is not the only factor that determines gun violence, rather it is simply a pointer to greater underlying issues within the society.

Last word on Texas gun laws

We hope this article has clarified some issues regarding the possession and use of firearms in Texas. Although this guide is informative, Texas gun laws are constantly evolving. Seek the services of an experienced lawyer if you have any queries on gun laws. This is especially important if you are facing firearm possession charges in Texas. Patty A. Tress is an experienced criminal defense attorney in Denton Texas and can be reached on 972-325-1758.

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