Texas Gun Laws

Introduction

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.

A. 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.”

[http://gunla.ws/tx1]

B. Scope of Preemption

The controlling language of Texas’ preemption statute is set forth as follows:

“(a) …a municipality may not adopt regulations relating to: (1) the transfer, private ownership, keeping, transportation, licensing, or registration of firearms, ammunition, or firearm supplies.”

[http://gunla.ws/tx2]

C. 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 attorney general 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.”

[http://gunla.ws/tx3]

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 Attorney General at the point in time the reciprocal carry is to occur. [http://gunla.ws/94ds]

D. Duty to Inform Officers

Texas requires any individual in possession of a handgun to inform a LEO of their permit or license to carry if an officer asks them for identification.

E. NFA Items

Texas permits ownership of all NFA items, provided they are legally obtained pursuant to federal law.  It is legal to use suppressors for hunting.

F. 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 vehicle. [http://gunla.ws/tx4]

G. Open Carry

As of 1/1/16, people with a valid carry permit may now carry a handgun openly.  Businesses have the option of prohibiting open (but not concealed) carry on their premises by posting a sign outside the store, and these signs carry the force of law.

H. 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. [http://gunla.ws/tx5]

I. 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 [http://gunla.ws/sqen]
    • 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 [http://gunla.ws/psen]
  • A hospital
  • An amusement park
  • A church, synagogue, or other established place of religious worship
  • 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 [http://gunla.ws/4601]
  • A business that derives at least 51% of its income from the sale of alcohol for onsite consumption
  • 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.

For a list of places where carrying firearms is prohibited, see:

[http://gunla.ws/tx6]