On June 17, 2021, Governor Greg Abbott signed into law a bill affirming what every Texan, deep-down, has always believed: law-abiding citizens over 21 have a right to carry handguns in public. No license, permit or test required.
Before you grab your handgun, however, you should know some details of this “permitless carry” law.
You can carry the handgun openly or concealed, but it must be in a holster.
Only qualified Texas residents and nonresidents are eligible to carry under the law. If you are prohibited from possessing guns under either state or federal law, then you cannot possess or carry handguns, even under the new law.
You cannot carry a handgun under authority of the new law if you have been convicted in the last five years of one of the following misdemeanor offenses: assault causing bodily injury, deadly conduct, terroristic threat, disorderly conduct by discharging a firearm, or disorderly conduct by displaying a firearm.
Having a handgun license is still preferable. If you do not have a license, then you are prohibited from carrying a handgun while intoxicated, except on property under your control, on private property with the owner’s consent or in (or en route) to a vehicle or watercraft in your control.
You cannot carry your handguns to the places where license holders previously could not carry and in places where no one but peace officers can carry. The burden falls on you to know these places, because they are not required to post a warning sign.
Private business owners can prohibit concealed carry and open carry of handguns but they must post a sign or individual warning. The owner can use any sign reasonably likely to come to the attention of someone entering the building. In other words, no magic words are required.
In addition to the places allowing constitutional carry, license holders may carry handguns at amusement parks, nursing homes, and hospitals which do not have proper signs posted prohibiting it, and meetings of a governmental entity.
License holders can also take advantage of reciprocity with other states and carry there. This includes Louisiana, Colorado, and New Mexico. If you do not have a license, then reciprocity does not apply to you. However, some states allow nonresidents to carry – you should check that state’s laws if you are going to travel there.
Peace officers may disarm either licensed or unlicensed persons temporarily, for safety.
Federal law generally prohibits possession of firearms within 1,000 feet of any portion of school property. There is an exception for persons “licensed to do so by the State,” but not for persons complying with other state laws like constitutional carry.
Texas is also considered a Second Amendment Sanctuary State. Generally, the law prohibits state agencies and officials from assisting federal authorities in enforcing more restrictive federal gun laws. This applies to laws requiring registration, licensing, background checks, confiscation, and prohibitions on sales.
These are merely highlights. Do your research before going Wild West.
A side note: Executors and administrators need to comply with the applicable gun laws. Generally, that means the laws where they are located whenever they possess or transfer a gun or ammunition.
Here are some helpful generalizations:
- State law defines location and type for gun possession, storage and transfer.
- Federal law defines the persons prohibited from gun and ammo possession, prohibitions on transfer, regulation of the gun industry, prohibition on certain types of guns (NFA firearms and certain imports or conversions), and safe passage between states.
Hammerle Finley Can Answer Your Questions on Texas Gun Laws
Virginia Hammerle is an attorney with Hammerle Finley Law Firm. She is entering her 40th year in the practice of law. She is Board Certified in Civil Trial Law by the Texas Board of Legal specialization. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to receive her firm’s newsletter.