What You Need To Know About Texas Open Carry Laws

Texas already has some of the most liberal (forgive the irony) laws regulating open carry handguns in the state. As of September of 2021, those rules are about to get much more lax. However there are still places where handguns cannot be carried in the state of Texas. We'll cover all of that on this page.

Table of Contents

We’ve already dedicated an entire article about the upcoming Texas handgun law, also called constitutional carry, that will make it legal to carry a handgun without a license in Texas. Updated on September 2nd, 2021: Texas’ new open carry law has officially gone into effect.

Are Background Checks Still Required?

A viral Facebook post claimed that background checks would no longer be required. This isn’t quite accurate. As the USA Today pointed out in their Fact Check piece on the bill, it does not impact the standards required for gun ownership. It only impacts whether one is legally allowed to carry a gun in public without a license.

As mentioned above, beginning on September 1st, 2021 adults over the age of 17 will be allowed to carry guns without a license in public. You will not need to have trained by an LTC verified instructor (though we highly recommend it).

As of September 1st, 2021 has come and passed, you no longer need to have a license to carry in the state of Texas. If you were charged before September 1st with this crime, you still need to appear in court and/or pay your fine.

How are Rifles Impacted by the Law?

The bill in question is specifically for handguns, as rifles (including assault rifles) are already legal to open carry in the state of Texas. The only stipulations on rifles, in regards to open carry laws in Texas, are federal lands and certain designated territories where the carry of a firearm is not allowed (usually because the area is not technically Texas land).

Where is Open Carry Illegal in Texas?

However just because the law applies across the state of Texas, that does not mean that the open carry of a handgun is legal everywhere within the state of Texas. There are several locations on the web that display nice tables that show where you can carry a firearm (including this nice one by Texas HGA), however, we’ll go over them one by one and explain the reasoning.

Employees at Their Workplace (maybe)

Then maybe here is because it depends on the policy of the company that the employee works for. If your employer does not allow guns inside the establishment, you need to leave the gun in your car. One stipulation in the law is that you are allowed to have a gun inside your car. Your employer may not terminate you because, or forbid you to bring, the gun on the premises (if they are counting the parking lot as the premises). One might imagine how this would create awkwardness and for more on that, see the Storage Bills section at the bottom of the page.

A Private Place of Business If They Have a Well Displayed Sign

A major talking point during the passing of Texas’ Constitutional Carry bill, was whether it would forbid companies from being allowed to prevent citizens from open carrying on their place of work. The Texas legislature ultimately decided to go with a clear stipulation.

If businesses do not want guns to be openly carried within their establishment, they need to put a sign that’s visible while entering the building that the establishment does not allow the open carry of handguns at that establishment.

Any Voting Place During Voting Season

This one is a little tricky because, as anyone who has voted will know, voting places are only voting places during voting season. They are converted into voting places from what are libraries, schools, and entertainment venues. However just because it isn’t voting day, that doesn’t mean that you can just bring a firearm into the voting area. The law also applies to the “Early Voting” period.

Be sure not to bring the firearm beyond the “No Campaigning” signs that adorn voting venues. Failure to do this will result in a felony under Texas law.

A Courtroom

Again, a major point of emphasis and perhaps surprising is that we need to mention it all, do not carry a handgun inside a courtroom without explicit permission. Other than bringing a weapon as evidence for a trial or as an expert witness with the explicit approval of a judge, this is a major offense and will be treated as such under Texas law. Expect to be charged with a felony if you enter a courthouse in Texas with a handgun.

Correctional Facility

Similar to the one above, it should be obvious why it’s illegal to carry a handgun into a correctional facility but if you do, expect to be charged with a felony. Make sure to leave the firearm in the car.

Whether it be a horse, dog, or any kind of race track where gambling is legal on the premises, you are not allowed to bring a firearm inside. We expect this to be a prevalent issue as gambling laws around the state continue to draw the attention of outside interests.

Airport Secure Areas

A new change headed for September 1, 2021 (this is now in effect) deals with secure areas inside airports. It used to be the case that it was only illegal to bring your gun past the security gate at an airport. Now thanks to HB 1920, one of the few bills that limited the places one can carry a firearm in Texas, the “secure area” has been expanded. Now it is a felony if you bring a gun to “an aircraft parking area that is used by common carriers in air transportation but not by general aviation and to which access is controlled under federal law.” However, this does “not include a baggage claim area, a motor vehicle parking area used by passengers, employees, or persons awaiting an arrival, or an area used by the public to pick up or drop off passengers or employees.” In those areas, you are still allowed to bring your firearm and have it on your person.

Storage Bills

As referenced above, there is an awkwardness created by the fact that many people will have handguns on them but be restricted from bringing them into certain places or sensitive areas (see the facilities where it’s illegal above). HB 29 which sped through the legislature and was signed by the governor on June 16th, creates “storage lockers” in federal facilities where people may store their handguns before entering the facility.

In an area of Texas Juvenile law more than the firearm code, the legal age to own a handgun in the state of Texas is over the age of 17 years old OR 18 years of age and older. From this age, the teenager is now considered an adult in the eyes of state law.