Gun Laws In Texas: The Full Story

As one of the most conservative states in the nation, gun laws in Texas have been a perennial talking point across the country. Among the most lax laws in the nation, very few things are regulated (and fewer will be in September of this year) however we'll got to that in the few regulations they do have.

Table of Contents

If there’s a good thing about Texas gun laws is that it’s fairly straightforward: pretty much everything is legal. Well, not everything but given this is the fact, we’re going to start by focusing on the things that are illegal. Then we’ll get to the permits that you need and what happens if you are found not to be in possession of them.

Most of the required laws on guns in Texas, and the recent bills that impact them, concern handguns and whether permits are required to carry them. Some restrictions do apply to long guns but we’ll try to address those as succinctly as possible. Keep in mind this is a fairly dynamic issue so double check with local law enforcement but proceeding with gun purchases.

Hand Gun and Other Restrictions

There’s a handful of restrictions regarding hand guns in the State but even those laws are extremely dynamic and have just been changed (or are scheduled to be changed) in the coming weeks. Currently a permit is required for concealed carry in the state of Texas. However this license is what’s called a “shall-issue” meaning that one must obtain a license in order to carry a hand gun, but the governing body must issue the state if applied. The applicant needn’t worry about showing that they’ll only use it for defense, or what they plan to do with the weapon after obtaining the weapon. However all of this is somewhat of a mute point as, on September 1, 2021, permit-less carry will be legal in the state of Texas.

Duty to inform

If you own a hand gun and a police offer approaches your vehicle (or your person) you have to inform them that you are carrying a weapon. The best practice here is to put your hands on the vehicles steering wheel, with your window rolled down, and alert the officer that you are in possession of a concealed weapon (which you hopefully have a license to have).

Campus Carry

In 2016, in the wake of several campus shootings, Texas made a law that Universities must allow students the right to carry on campus. However there are some restrictions to the rule. First and foremost, Open Carry is not allowed anywhere on college campuses. Additionally, Universities are allowed to designate gun free zones on campus. However, these gun free zones are subject to legislative analysis if students feel there is no reason for that area of campus to be restrictive.

BB Gun Laws In Texas

A question that is, perhaps not surprisingly, more common in the lone star state than elsewhere is whether BB Guns and airsoft guns are illegal to open carry in the state. Just because they are non-lethal in almost all circumstances, there are still restrictions. This is due to the fact that both BB guns and airsoft guns, particularly the latter, are replicas of real guns and can cause confusion for law enforcement who may be called to the scene by a citizen meaning no harm.

The major restriction on these weapons is a clear identifier on the gun’s barrel that indicates that the gun is fake and not a BB gun or airsoft gun. Check our full page for an example and more about carrying around those replica guns in public.

Common Gun Laws Not Restricted In Texas

There are several gun laws that are common across the country that are not restricted in any (or in a limited capacity) in the state of Texas. For this reason we expect this section to be potentially dynamic as either the culture around Texas changes or the nation, but it seems as though something has to give.

Assault Weapon Bans

As of right now, Texas has no Assault Weapons ban on firearms. We’ll update if this changes. Last updated June 16th, 2021

Magazine Capacity Restrictions

There is currently no magazine capacity required to purchase. Last updated June 16th, 2021.

State Permit Requirements

There are no state permits required to purchase. Last updated June 16th, 2021.

Places In Texas Where You Are Restricted From Carrying Guns

Despite the language of the new open carry law, Texans are still prevented from carrying guns into certain places, establishments and lands. Penalties for violating these laws range from a simple misdemeanor to a felony. We’ll cover the full sepctrum.

A Bar (or maybe restaurant)

You are not allowed to carry a rifle, assault weapon or handgun into any establishment that makes 51% or more of its money from alcohol sales. This is a way of avoiding the conceptual question of “when is a bar a restaurant?” in a way that it is more straightforward.

Race tracks

Just like bars, it is a felony to bring any type of firearm whatsoever inside when in the state of Texas. It does not matter if you are licensed or not.

Other Felonies

Same deal as bars or race tracks, it is never legal to carry a gun into one of the following establishments. Regardless of whether you are licensed or not, or if the gun is a handgun or rifle, bringing a gun into one of these areas is a felony.

  • Correctional facility.
  • Past the security line at an Airport.
  • A courtroom unless given explicit permission by the judge.
  • A school that is not a university, without first acquiring permission.
  • A voting place. Note: if you’re one of the people that wants to patrol voting polls that’s fine, but do not bring your gun beyond the no campaigning signs.

Misdemeanor Violations

Misdemeanor violations for guns mostly deal with handguns. For example you cannot bring a handgun to a professional sporting event. Additionally, you’re not allowed to bring a handgun to someone’s private residence or any private establishment (such as a restaurant) that clearly displays a sign prohibiting guns on the premises. This was a major amendment to Texas’ most recent (2021) constitutional carry law, the concession by republican lawmakers is what allowed the bill to pass right before the session came to a close.

Recent Laws

Another session, another flurry of laws aimed at various gun law changes. For the full list visit the official government site that will give the active status of every existing gun law in the state.

“We wouldn’t know who we’re stopping. Who is going to have a weapon? Who is not going to have a weapon? Who is trained proficient in that weapon and who’s not? I think it’s very important when you’re talking about people having something that could take someone’s life that they have to be trained in that.”

Douglas Griffith, the president of the Houston Police Officers’ Union to KTRK

SB 18 87(R): A bill that sought to include gun stores in the list of “essential businesses” that could remain open during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Outcome: The bill, which was introduced in the senate, successfully passed through the relevant committee (it was the State Affairs Committee by the way). Then the bill passed through the Senate on 4/15/2021, only to fail to make it out of the house committee.

HB 1500 87(R): A bill that “would remove the governor’s authority during a declared disaster to suspend or limit the sale, dispensing, or transportation of firearms and prohibit the governor from restricting the sale and transportation of explosives or combustibles that were components of firearm ammunition.”

Outcome: passed. Sent to Governor’s desk.

Certified Handgun Trainers In Texas

Whether you support the new law(s) or not, responsible gun ownership is a bipartisan issue. The Texas Handgun association keeps the following map available to find a certified handgun instructor. On that same site you can find out how to become an officially certified instructor yourself. If you note the embedded map, there’s quite a few areas of Texas (particularly in West Texas) where there is currently no registered LTC expert.