Current Texas Hand Gun Laws

Most of the focus on state laws regarding gun control focuses on how hand guns are used and what permits are required. On this page we'll look explicitly at hand gun laws in Texas state, and up them accordingly.

Table of Contents

To get started we’ll first define what a hand gun is according to Texas state law (different states define handgun differently). The penal code 46.01 defines handguns as “any firearm that is designed, made, or adapted to be fired with one hand.”

Is A Permit Required To Own A Handgun?

As of September 1st, 2021 Texans will no longer be required to have a license in order to carry a handgun in public. While the open carry on federal property and businesses that expressly forbid handguns is still prohibited, there is no longer a requirement that citizens obtain a permit. Additionally, the law also repeals any requirement for training before acquiring a handgun unless you are a first responder who wishes to carry a handgun while on duty (see New Laws).

Are Background Checks Required Before You Own A Handgun?

In Texas, there is no law requiring a background check before you own a handgun if purchased using private sales (gun stores to gun shows). This is true for rifles as well as handguns.

The Legal Status of Silencers

One of the new bills getting less attention then some of the other new laws passed in the spring of 2021, House Bill 957 now makes it legal to possess, transport or repair a firearm silencer. Additionally, as Texas.gov put it in their press release, the bill also “ensures that any firearm suppressor manufactured in Texas, and that remains in Texas, will not be subject to federal law or federal regulation.”

Handgun Reciprocity Laws

Reciprocity laws allow for people with gun permits in one state to be able to use their permits in the other state (and vice versa) without having to apply for a new license. These agreements are negotiated between the states themselves. Texas has reciprocal agreements of some type with most states. There are six exceptions: Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Oregon, Wisconsin and Minnesota where no agreement between the two states has been reached.

For a full list of the reciprocity agreements on handgun licensing checkout the states official list here which keeps track of the agreements and provides links to the full the agreements between the states.

Are Handguns Allowed On Campus?

Yes. As of 2016 (for four year universities) and 2017 (for two year universities) students may bring handguns on campus and even into campus buildings. This decision spawned a widely mocked powerpoint presentation by Houston University (where administrators encouraged professors “not to go there with THAT student”) but nonetheless came with some fears that have yet to be manifested in reality. Universities are allowed to pick certain locations on campus and designate them “gun free” areas, however approval of these areas may be challenged by lawmakers.

Legal Age to Own A Handgun in Texas

There’s a bit of a catch here, adults 18 or over are allowed to own a firearm in the lone-star state. However the transfer of firearms is only legal to adults 21 years or over. Furthermore, as it relates to handguns, you must be 21 years or older in order to legally own a handgun in Texas. To that end, if you intentionally sell, rent or lease a firearm to a child in Texas you can be held criminally responsible (Sec. 46.06 of the penal code).

Can Children Possess A Firearm

In the 1990s a flurry of bills were passed regulating the age when a child can use a firearm. The Texas Penal code sec. 46.13 is now the official home of the legal age to handle a firearm. For the purposes of this law, the legal age by which one is considered a “child” is anyone under the age of 18. There are numerous stipulations and exceptions but if a child is supervised by an adult and the gun is being discharged for legal reasons then it’s legal.

If the gun accidentally goes off and seriously injures someone or kills someone, then it is a Class A misdemeanor.

BB Guns and Airsoft Gun Laws

In Texas, replica guns are very popular. So popular we thought it was justified to write an entire article on the subject of BB guns and airsoft gun laws in Texas. However the short answer is that those weapons are allowed to be carried as long as they have some indication that the weapon is not a real gun. We know, this makes the “replica gun” idea less fun but it’s better than being shot by a law enforcement officer who mistakenly took the airsoft gun for a real gun. Consider reading the full article regarding how juveniles are treated under the law.

New Texas Handgun Laws

Not only did 2021 see the open carry law that passed that allows residents to carry handguns without a license, the 2021 session also saw a flurry of related gun laws. After the next session, we’ll move this into the historical section and update with new relevant bills.

First Responders Can Now Carry Handguns in Texas

HB 1069, passed during the session, now makes it legal for certain emergency responders with some caveats. The bill requires the department to establish standards. However those standards include that the the first responder must first take a class (of up to 40 hours) that teaches self-defense and de-escalation tactics. The class must be handled by a certified LTC expert.

Effective September 1, 2021

Hand Gun In Airport Parking Lots

We’ve discussed before the areas of the state where handguns are no longer allowed. Previously gun owners were allowed to bring guns to the airport but could not bring them beyond the security gates. Beginning on September 1, 2021, the “secure area” now includes airport parking that is under federal law. However baggage claim is excluded.

Bill number: HB 1920

Effective date: September 1, 2021

For a full list of 2021 Texas handgun laws, see the state’s official website for 2021 changes to Texas handgun laws.

Texas Open Carry No Longer Requires License

Perhaps the gun law that brought the most attention to the state was HB 1927 that allowed permit-less carry in the state of Texas. We have a full write up of that bill here but, a longtime goal of state conservatives, the bill was passed after a last second agreement was made prior to the session ending.

Effective date: September 1, 2021

LTC Certified Hand Gun Trainers In Texas

Reiterating the point on our full Texas gun laws page, we believe that gun safety should be a bipartisan issue. The Texas Handgun Association maintains a list of certified LTC handgun trainers in the state of Texas where you can lookup the one nearest to you in order to schedule a training session.