Notice: The information contained herein is not a substitute for actual legal advice by a licensed attorney. You should always consult an attorney about your particular situation. This information is being provided as an informational resource.
COVID-19 has increased panic throughout the country which has spiked gun sales. More gun sales mean that the number of new gun owners have increased. With those numbers rising, it’s now more important than ever to have a better understanding of Texas gun laws.
Gun laws afford Americans the Constitutional right to carry a weapon for self-defense. But it is important to keep in mind that laws for carrying weapons vary from state-to-state, so the information contained herein applies only to Texas.
Becoming a new gun owner can be an exciting yet overwhelming process, creating more questions than answers about what you can do with your weapon. We will break down the basics of concealed carry vs. open carry so that you are informed on how, when, and where you can carry.
Concealed carry and open carry in Texas and prohibitions
Chapter 46 – Weapons
Firearm definition: “Firearm” means any device designed, made or adapted to expel a projectile through a barrel by using energy generated by an explosion or burning substance or any device readily convertible to that use. Sec 46.01(3).
Handgun definition: Any firearm that is designed, made or adapted to be fired with one hand.
What is a concealed carry license?
A concealed carry license allows a person to carry a concealed firearm on one’s person in public. It is now commonly called a License to Carry (LTC).
What does concealed mean?
It means that neither the weapon nor any part can be visible. Its presence cannot be noticeable via ordinary observation. This means that a “partially” visible gun is NOT concealed.
What does “open carry” mean and is it legal in Texas?
Open carry is legal in Texas if a person holds a valid License to Carry (LTC). By law, to lawfully open carry, the handgun must be carried in a hip or shoulder holster.
How do I apply for a Texas License to Carry a Handgun (LTC)?
First-time handgun owners must submit an online application, schedule an appointment to be fingerprinted, complete six hours of training, pass a written exam, and pass a demonstration (shooting).
Can I take the LTC class online?
Yes, there are several resources that provide online training.
In general, who is prohibited from possessing a firearm?
- Convicted Felons (although there is one exception under Texas law)
- People under 18 years of age
- Persons convicted of family violence
- Persons subject to a family violence protective order
- Persons not qualified under Texas or Federal law
- Persons who are delinquent on child support payments
- Persons charged with certain misdemeanors or a felony under information or indictment
- Persons prohibited under an Order of Pre-trial release or probation
- Persons deemed mentally deficient
If I was convicted of a misdemeanor three years ago, can I still get the LTC?
No. Any conviction of a Class A or Class B misdemeanor within the last five years will render you ineligible.
Keep in mind that “deferred adjudication” or any other case that was dismissed after you completed probation is considered a conviction.
Will my application be accepted if I was arrested but my case was dismissed?
Yes. As long as you weren’t placed on probation or deferred adjudication prior to the dismissal, then it will pass.
When can I apply again if my license is revoked?
You will have to wait until the reason for your revocation has not existed for two years.
For example: If your license is revoked because of a Class A misdemeanor on 5/5/19 because of a conviction on 1/9/19, you may apply on 1/9/26 because the conviction made you ineligible for five years and the two extra years are added due to the revocation of the license.
Sec. 411.172, 173 – Circumstances where carrying a handgun is illegal
- A person cannot carry a handgun without a concealed carry permit and the gun is in a shoulder or belt holster, unless:
- The person is on his own premises or premises under the person’s control; or
- Inside of or directly en route to a motor vehicle or watercraft that is owned by the person or under his control
- A person cannot possess a handgun in a motor vehicle or watercraft IF:
- The handgun is in plain view (without concealed carry permit, and in shoulder or belt holster)
- The person is engaged in criminal activity, other than Class C misdemeanors
- The person is a member of a criminal street gang
Sec. 46.02 – Limitations on concealed/open carry
- Even with a concealed carry permit, there are limitations on a person’s ability to possess a firearm in certain locations or under certain circumstances:
- A license holder cannot carry a partially or wholly visible handgun, regardless of whether it’s holstered, and knowingly display the handgun in plain view of another person on the premises of an institution of higher education
- A license holder cannot carry a handgun (even if properly concealed) on the premises of an institution of higher learning IF the institution has given proper notice prohibiting such conduct
- On the premises of any government court or offices utilized by the court, unless allowed by written regulations or written authorization of the court
- On the premises of a racetrack
- In or into the secured area of an airport
- Within 1000 feet of premises designated as a place of execution under Texas law
- On the premises of a business that has a permit or license to sell liquor, if the business derives 51 % or more of its income from the sale of alcohol for on-premise consumption
- On the premises of high school, collegiate or professional sporting event;
- On the premises of a correctional facility
- On the premises of a hospital
- In an amusement park
- On the premises of a church, synagogue or other place of religious worship;
- On the premises of a civil commitment facility
- In the room or rooms where a meeting of a government entity is held pursuant to the open meetings act
- If the person is intoxicated
Can my firearm be loaded when carrying it?
Yes, it can be. But as any responsible gun owner knows, “treat every firearm as if it were loaded.”
Do I have to tell police that you have a gun in the car?
If you are pulled over, you should hand the officer your LTC along with your driver’s license. If you don’t have the license, you still are required to let the police know that you have weapons in the car.
If my handgun is on the car seat beside me, am I still “carrying?”
Yes. Texas courts consider any gun that is within your reach as being carried. This will also include one that is stored in the glove box or in a passenger’s purse. As long as you can reach the gun without significantly changing your position, then the statute applies.
Is it illegal to carry a handgun if I am drinking alcohol?
No, but it is an offense to carry if you are intoxicated.
Intoxicated: the person must be unable to care for himself, be dangerous to himself or others, be causing a disturbance, or refuse to leave or move along when requested.
However, it is important to keep in mind that intoxication is often left up to the judgment of the officer. It may be wise to not have any alcohol while in possession of your firearm.
Can private property owners prohibit conceal carry license holders from entering their property while “carrying”?
Yes, as long as the property owner gives sufficient posted notice.
How do I know if an establishment derives 51% or more of its income from the sale of alcohol for on-premise consumption?
Establishments that fall into this category are required by the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission to post 51% signs. The sign will have “51 %” in large red print and notify you that carrying a handgun on the premises is a 3rd-degree felony.
Does Penal Code §46.03(a)(3) prohibit an individual from carrying firearms and other prohibited weapons throughout an entire building that houses a government court, including but not limited to the Waller County Courthouse?
Yes. The 459th District Court in Travis County agreed with and ruled in favor of Waller County and declared that Texas law prohibits firearms in courthouses.
Is it legal for me to carry my handgun in another state if I have my LTC?
You may be eligible if there is a reciprocity agreement with Texas.
Reciprocity Agreement: an agreement between two states between state governments, often decided by a state’s attorney general, that allows non-residents to carry in a given state if they meet the criteria.
States that will not honor carry permits from any other states: California, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York.
States that will honor ALL US permits: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, and Virginia.
Check out this map to see a clearer view of how states view your permit.
No matter how informed you may be, from time to time there are grey areas that can lead to an arrest. We have worked tirelessly for 30 years to assist individuals who have been arrested for weapon-related offenses. We have handled many of Unlawful Firearm Possession cases in Austin and have developed specific techniques and expertise that have aided us in getting many of these cases dismissed. If you or a loved one has been charged with a similar case, please reach out to discuss how we can help.