Texas gun laws are known for being less strict than other states. According to Article 1, Section 23 of the Texas constitution, our state protects your right to bear arms. No permit is required to purchase a gun, and some firearms can be freely carried in the open. There are a few restrictions, however. Some people are not allowed to carry firearms at all. Texas outlines very strict laws on what firearms you are allowed to carry, and where.
What Can Be Carried?
Open carry laws allow for most types of guns. Rifles, shotguns, and other similar firearms can be carried in public as long as the weapon does not cause alarm. If the firearm carrier appears threatening or otherwise raises suspicion, the owner can be charged with disorderly conduct.
The only firearms that are specifically restricted are handguns. A handgun may not be carried on your own property, taken to gun shows, or used while hunting. Eligible people can apply for a concealed handgun license (CHL). Texas has reciprocity agreements with thirty of the forty-nine other states and state law recognizes CHLs from 11 other states.
How Old Do You Have To Be To Apply for a Concealed Handgun License (CHL)?
CHL applications must be 21 years or older, unless they are an active military member. There are a few other factors that can render an application ineligible:
- If the applicant has pending criminal charges, the license will be postponed until the matter is resolved.
- If the applicant has two or more substance charges in a period of ten years, he or she must wait until the ten year period has ended to apply.
- Any ongoing mental health issues.
- Any ongoing restraining orders.
- Defaulting on student loans or other government fees (child support or back taxes) until the debt is resolved.
- Felony convictions. Misdemeanors result in a five year ban on CHLs, though a Class A domestic violence misdemeanor will make the ban permanent.
Where Are Firearms Allowed in Texas?
Regardless of license, it is unlawful to carry firearms into certain places. Here are some examples:
- Carrying a firearm on school property is a felony unless the school gives written authorization. This restriction is effective inside public and private schools, though firearms are allowed in public outdoor areas. The definition of public outdoor areas does not necessarily include sidewalks, parking lots, or other places that are within close proximity to children.
- Carrying a firearm at sporting events, whether for school, amateur, or professional events, is a Class A misdemeanor.
- It is illegal to carry firearms in any building that displays a 51% sign. 51% refers to any business that makes more than half of its revenue from the sale of alcoholic beverages that are consumed on the property. In other words, it is legal to carry a firearm in a liquor store, but is disallowed in bars and clubs.
- Firearms are prohibited in any building associated with a jail or prison.
- It is illegal to carry firearms in state and federal buildings. CHL holders can carry a concealed firearm in state and federal parks, but post offices, police stations, fire stations, and government buildings are off-limits. These limitations also extend to courthouses and all buildings designated for temporary government use, like polling and election stations. Concealed carry in any of these areas is considered a felony.
- If the carrier is intoxicated with a BAC of 0.08 or more, then concealed carry is restricted.
- Firearms are restricted at horse and dog racetracks.
“Castle Doctrine” and “Stand Your Ground Law”
Texas has both “castle doctrine” and “stand-your-ground” laws, which allow anyone to use deadly force to protect his or her home when someone is unlawfully trespassing on the property and attempting to forcibly enter the home. In other words, in cases of self-defense, the firearm holder is not expected to back down.