Basic Texas Gun Laws for Beginners

Here in the Lone Star State, we still believe in certain time-honored values.  One of those is obeying the laws our representatives set in place.  With that in mind, here’s a look at the basics of Texas gun laws.  Use these facts as a guide to ensuring that you’re within your rights, but remember that we’re not lawyers.  If you need legal advice, then we strongly recommend you consult an attorney.

Texas Gun Laws: Some Q & A
Q: Do I need a permit to buy handguns or long arms in Texas?
A: No.  However, you must be at least 18 to purchase a long arm, 21 or older to buy a handgun, and 18+ to possess a firearm in general (there are exceptions to this last rule for minors using guns under adult supervision).

Q: Does Texas require residents to register long arms or handguns?
A: No.

Q: Does Texas have an “assault weapons” law?
A: No.

Q: Does Texas require an owner license for firearms?
A: No. 

Q: Do Texas gun laws permit the concealed carry of handguns?
A: Yes, contingent upon the carrier possessing the appropriate permit.  However, there are restrictions on where a firearm may be carried, such as public offices and certain types of private property.  Details on Texas’ concealed carry statutes follow this section of this article.

Q: Can I openly carry a firearm in Texas?
A: It depends.  In the case of handguns, the answer is “no,” meaning essentially that you can’t strap a weapon on your hip and walk around town.  However, you may openly carry a sidearm if you’re hunting.  In most cases, you can openly carry a long arm within the state.  However, this law is limited by disorderly conduct statutes.  In other words, you can’t carry a shotgun or rifle with you when you’re shopping for groceries or sitting in a movie theater.  You also don’t want to wave one around in a public place such as a parking lot, unless you want to get in serious trouble really quick.

Q: Can local governments restrict my possession and/or use of a firearm?
A: Yes, within certain bounds.  For example, many municipalities within the state take a dim view of persons who discharge firearms on their streets, even if they’re fired directly into the air.  Others may restrict your ability to carry a firearm, even a concealed one, into certain locations.  Check with local law enforcement for details.

Q: Are there restrictions on weapons covered by the National Firearms Act (NFA)?
A: No.  If you’re compliant with federal gun laws, then you’re good so far as the state of Texas is concerned.

Q: How does Texas stand on so-called “peaceable journey” laws?
A: You may legally possess a loaded firearm if you’re passing through Texas, so long as it’s in your automobile or watercraft.  You may also carry a loaded firearm directly to said vehicle.

Q: Do Texas gun laws observe the “castle doctrine?”
A: Yes.  Residents of a dwelling may use deadly force to protect themselves against unlawful, forced intrusion.  They may also use deadly force to prevent the unlawful, forceful removal of another occupant from their dwelling.

Q: Does Texas have a “stand your ground” law?
A: Yes.  You are under no obligation to retreat from anywhere you have a legal right to be. 

How to Obtain a Concealed Handgun License (CHP) in Texas: Q & A
Q: Are there age restrictions on Texas CHLs?
A: Yes.  With the exception of active members of the military, a person must be 21 or older to hold a CHL.  Active service people may obtain a CHL beginning at age 18.

Q: What persons are restricted from holding a Texas CHL?
A: CHLs are forbidden to individuals to who fall under the following categories:
1. Anyone convicted of a felony and/or a Class A or B misdemeanor.
2. Anyone who is facing pending criminal charges.
3. Anyone who has had two convictions for chemical or alcohol dependency-related issues within a 10-year period.
4. Anyone who suffers from certain psychological impairments or conditions (unless a medical professional certifies that said condition is in remission).
5. Anyone subject to a protective or restraining order.
6. Anyone who is in default on taxes, child support, or governmental fees.

Q: Is there a required class for obtaining a CHL?
A: Yes.  Texas gun laws dictate that anyone who wishes to possess a CHL must first take a state-approved course taught by a licensed instructor.  After the course, the applicant must take a written exam, which covers topics such as Texas gun laws, handgun safety, conflict resolution, and certain facts about criminal and/or civil liability.  The CHL applicant must also pass a test at a firing range, demonstrating basic competency with firearms while firing a minimum of 50 rounds from the weapon he or she wishes to carry.

Q: How much is the required class?
A: Costs normally range from $100-$125.  This covers only the fees associated with the course itself. 

Q: How much does it cost to process a CHL application?
A: Texas requires a fee currently set at $140.00 for new applicants.  The license is issued contingent on passing a national criminal background check.  It stays in force for five years from the date of issue.  The fee may be reduced or waived for both active duty members of the military and for veterans.

Q: What public locations may legally restrict a CHL holder from carrying a firearm?
A: The following types of locations may prevent a CHL holder from bringing a firearm on their property:
1. Any property owned by the federal government of the United States.  This includes post offices.
2. Educational institutions of all types, whether public or private, and irrespective of grade level.
3. Locations of public sporting events – This includes both scholastic and professional sporting events.  The sole exception is for those who are participating in the event being held, provided that it requires the use of a firearm, i.e. target shooting competitions.
4. Any business that posts a 51% sign – This refers to locations that make their revenues from the sale of alcoholic beverages, which are sold on their premises.  For example, you may not possess a firearm while on the property of a bar, tavern, saloon, nightclub, etc.
5. Correctional facilities – You may not carry a weapon, concealed or otherwise, while on the property of a jail, prison, or other correctional facility.
6. Courts of all jurisdiction levels, including local, state, and federal.  However, certain exceptions are made in the case of employees of said court, such as judges, guards, bailiffs, and attorneys.
7. Election polling locations – Simply put, if you’re going to a place where voting is going on that day, then leave your gun behind, even if the location doesn’t normally restrict carrying weapons.  It doesn’t matter if voting isn’t taking place at the particular time you’re there or not.  Nor does it matter if you’re there to vote or not.  If you step on their property, do so unarmed.
8. Racetracks – This refers to locations where dog, horse, and or auto racing is held.
9. Any location displaying a 30.06 sign – Basically, this means that the owner of a piece of property can prevent you from being armed while on the premises, whether you have a CHL or not.  The property owner must display a public notice indicating this policy for it to apply.

Other Restrictions
1. Texas gun laws dictate that no one may carry a firearm while intoxicated.  This refers to individuals with a measurable blood alcohol level (BAL), no matter how low.  It also refers to individuals under the influence of illegal drugs, as well as those taking certain types of legal medicines.  In short, if a substance has a chance of impairing your judgment and/or motor skills, then you can’t carry a gun while it’s in your system – period.

2. Property owner and managers may direct any person who is armed to leave their premises.  The firearm owner must immediately comply with this order, irrespective of whether they have a CHL or not.  Simply put, if someone in authority says, “you can’t carry a gun while you’re here,” then leave peacefully right then.

Additional Facts
1. You may not be held liable of civil or criminal penalties due to injuries or death caused to any person, provided that the injury or death was caused by you while in the act of defending yourself from the person who is injured or dead.  In plain language, this means that, if someone tries to hurt you or break in your house and you shoot that person, then he or she cannot later try to sue you or put you behind bars.

2. Persons identified as members of criminal gangs are prevented from carrying firearms in or through the state.  In other words, if you’re in the Bloods, the Crips, the Mafia, or similar organizations, then you may not carry or transport a gun while in the state of Texas.

Thinking of Buying a Pre-Owned Firearm?  Think of Dury’s.
We all know that the price of guns has gone through the roof in recent years.  One way to beat those cost increases is to buy a weapon that someone else has owned.  However, buying used guns can put you at risk of injury or death, if the weapon isn’t in good working order.  That’s why you should purchase your pre-owned weapons from Dury’s, one of the oldest and best-established San Antonio gun stores.  Our expert gunsmiths inspect every piece we sell thoroughly, ensuring that it functions as well as when it was new.  Look over the selection here on our site; we carry a number of the best guns for self defense, along with others that are ideal for sporting purposes.  Then, come see us in person or place your order through your local FFL dealer.

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