Everything is bigger in Texas, and gun ownership is no exception.
Texas is known as one of the most gun-friendly states. 35.7% of surveyed Texas adults own a gun, and there are more firearms dealers in the Lone Star State than in any other.
Gun laws in Texas have the reputation of being loose, but what laws are on the books, exactly? Read on for all the basics on Texas gun laws and the recent changes that may affect you.
Purchase and Ownership
With few exceptions, there are no restrictions on purchasing and owning guns in Texas.
Texas residents do not need any special licenses, permits, or registration to own a gun or to buy a new one. There are no waiting periods, and the state does not require universal background checks for private sales.
In general, Texans see gun ownership as a basic right.
People who have lost the right to own firearms are those confined to a penal institution and convicted felons. In some cases, it’s possible for people with a felony on their record to have the firearm ban lifted.
Minors under the age of 18 may not purchase a gun without parental or guardian permission. However, they may do so with written permission.
Gun laws in Texas work within the framework of national laws established by the federal government.
Licensed manufacturers, importers, and dealers must conduct a background check for all firearms transfers, in accordance with federal law.
NFA weapons such as machine guns, sawed-off shotguns, silencers, armor-piercing bullets, and explosive weapons are not banned by the state but are subject to heavy regulation under federal law.
Open carry is legal in Texas.
With regard to handguns, this is a recent change. Gun laws in Texas had previously banned the open carry of handguns unless the carrier was hunting. Handguns could only be carried with a concealed carry license.
That changed when Governor Greg Abbott signed a new open carry bill that went into effect in the beginning of 2016. Handguns may now be openly carried in a holster.
The previous Concealed Handgun License (CHL) now applies as a general License to Carry (LTC).
Open carry of long arms, such as rifles and shotguns, remains legal.
Carrying a firearm is not allowed in certain locations.
In general, schools, government buildings, religious centers, sporting events, and airports are gun-free zones. Guns are also banned from businesses who get more than 51% of its revenue from the sale of alcohol.
Individual businesses and private property owners may choose to ban weapons on their premises.
All open carry is subject to disorderly conduct statutes. Residents carrying guns must do so in a responsible manner. Residents may also not carry weapons while intoxicated.
Of course, deadly conduct is illegal. Pointing a gun, loaded or not, is a misdemeanor. Firing a gun at a person, house or vehicle is a third-degree felony.
Stand Your Ground
Texas observes the “Castle Doctrine,” also known as the “Stand Your Ground” rule. Residents may use deadly force to protect themselves and their property against unlawful intrusion.
Learn More About Gun Laws in Texas
Vinas & Graham, PLLC, is a Houston-based law firm with expertise on state and federal criminal law. For more insight into gun laws and other legal issues in Texas, visit our blog.