Last Updated: October 7, 2021
Before you carry a handgun in Texas, whether you openly carry or concealed carry, you need to know your rights and your obligations under federal and state law.
Texas law enforcement can and will question anyone seen carrying a handgun so it is vital to know your rights!
Texas Gun Rights & Licensing
|Rights||Handguns||Rifles & Shotguns|
|Permit Required to Purchase||No||No|
|Must Register Firearm||No||No|
|Owner License Required||No||No|
|Open Carry Allowed||Yes||Yes|
|Permit Required to Open Carry||No||No|
|Concealed Carry Allowed||Yes||N/A|
|Permit Required to Concealed Carry||No||N/A|
|Magazine Size Limits||No||No|
Texas Constitutional Carry (Permitless Carry)
Texas has Constitutional Carry which allows any citizen who is not barred from owning firearms to carry a handgun (concealed or open carried in a hip or chest holster) without a license, insurance, or any required training.
Today, Texas is regarded as having some of the most permissive gun laws in the United States. Despite the state’s reputation, that has not always been the case. In fact, Texas has a long history of gun control dating back to its days as a Mexican colony. Today, however, the Right to Bear Arms is enshrined in Texas law and culture.
In recent years, gun laws have been significantly loosened by the Texas legislature. In 2021, Texas became the 21st state to adopt what is knows as “Constitutional Carry.” This replaces the 2016 law that allowed open carry for handgun license holders.
Furthermore, Texas has no laws with regard to possessing a firearm, however federal prohibitions on those under 18, and in some cases 21, do prevent younger Texans from fully utilizing their 2nd Amendment rights.
With regard to long guns and black powder pistols, these are not considered “firearms” under Texas law. They may be freely and publicly carried, openly or concealed, without prejudice by any Texan so long as they do not do so in a manner calculated to alarm. Tex. Penal Code § 42.01(a)(8)
Texas Handgun License & Concealed Carry License
You can still obtain a handgun license from the Texas Department of Public Safety despite the state no longer requiring a license to carry a handgun.
How to apply for a License To Carry (LTC) a Handgun in Texas
- Be sure you are eligible and a citizen
- Submit an application online
- Send in the necessary documents
- Get fingerprinted
There are many reasons to obtain your handgun license despite it no longer being a legal requirement.
The Texas Department of Public Safety requires license seekers to complete training that includes an understanding of applicable laws, gun safety, and conflict resolution in order to obtain a license. In the event of a shooting incident, having completed this training and obtaining a license may be beneficial.
There is a great deal of value in understanding state law on carrying a handgun, how to de-escalate situations, and passing a range test to prove that you have the proficiency necessary to safely carry a firearm, openly or concealed, in public.
Until a few years ago, Texas state law to obtain a handgun license stipulated that Texans must conceal carry handguns only. Even with your handgun license, Texas law prohibited openly carried handguns. That changed in 2016 when Gov. Greg Abbott signed a law to permit open and concealed carry, still subject to licensing and background checks. This law was replaced in 2021 when Texas became the 21st state to recognize a constitutional right to carry, which eliminated the requirement for a license to carry.
Texas’ Reciprocal Agreements With Other States
As for Texans right to carry in other states, and other states’ citizens right to carry in Texas, Texas has reciprocal agreements with 30 states, allows citizens of 11 other states to carry in Texas unilaterally, and there are 8 states with which Texas has no agreement. Vermont is truly Constitutional Carry and has no law on the books in any way restricting gun owners from other states including Texas.
Castle Doctrine – Home & Vehicle
Of course not all firearm ownership or possession requires a license, even when a license was required by Texas to carry a handgun. The US Supreme Court sees a fundamental right to the defense of your home, sometimes referred to as the Castle Doctrine. In recent years, the Court has expanded this doctrine to include your vehicle. There is no legal jeopardy in Texas for using an unlicensed firearm in self-defense when the firearm is stored on or in your private property.
Stand Your Ground
The Texas penal code further recognizes an individuals right to “stand their ground.” This means a Texan has no obligation to attempt to flee before resorting to deadly force.
Under Texas law, when use of force is justified, the shooter is free of legal liability and cannot be sued by anyone shot as a result of their own criminal behavior.
Texas Gun Control Laws & Restrictions
Texas actually has many gun laws. Despite Constitutional Carry, law enforcement retains the right to question anyone openly carrying a handgun in public, without probable cause.
State law also specifies where and the manner in which carrying a handgun without a license, and even with a license, can be restricted.
Places Guns Are Prohibited in Texas:
- Colleges & universities (except concealed carry on 2-year & 4-year college campuses)
- Federal government buildings
- Prisons & Correctional Facilities
- Polling places
- Airports beyond the security checkpoints
- Bars & Restaurants that derive 51%+ of their income from the sale of alcohol
- During commission of a crime
- While intoxicated
- Public sporting events
- Racetrack (horse or dog)
- Any Business Displaying 30.06 (concealed carry) or 30.07 (open carry) signs
Right of Refusal for Businesses
Private business property owners enjoy the “right of refusal” to permitting handguns on their premises. They get to decide if and under what circumstances a handgun may be carried in their businesses.
By posting what is called “30.06 notification,” referring to the designation of the law in the Texas penal code which authorizes it, businesses can prohibit concealed carry. When the law was amended in 2016 to include open carry, the “30.07 notification” was created to allow business owners to prohibit openly carried firearms as well.
Federal Gun Laws in Texas
Laws in Texas do not supersede federal law when it comes to guns. National gun laws are enforced in Texas, as they are across all US states and territories.
Purchasing a Firearm in Texas
You must be at least 18 years of age to purchase a firearm in Texas, whether that is a hand gun or a long gun. All retail and internet gun buyers are required to pass federal background checks and the right to purchase can be denied for certain felony convictions. However, Texas does not require a federal background check for the private sale of firearms.
Federal law also prohibits owning or selling fully automatic weapons except in certain cases where a specific federal license is required. Fully automatic weapons are prohibited under the federal penal code from being carried publicly under all circumstances.
Can you openly carry an AR in Texas?
Yes, you can openly carry an AR in Texas. Texas has no restrictions on “assault rifles” and you can open carry any long gun in Texas as long as you don’t do so in a “manner calculated to alarm.”
Do you have a duty to inform a police officer if you have a gun in Texas?
Yes, if you have a license to carry (LTC) and are pulled over by police, you must give the police your drivers license, your gun license, and inform them you have a firearm in the car. If you do not have a LTC, you technically do not have a duty to inform the police you have a firearm. When pulled over, you should inform the officer before they ask . You should keep your hands visible at all times and not reach for your gun unless asked to do so by the police. The police have the right to disarm you, inspect your firearm, and return it to you before letting you go on your way if they feel it is necessary for your safety or theirs.
Are suppressors legal in Texas?
Yes, noise and flash suppressors are legal under Texas law as long as they are made in Texas and not transported outside of the state. However, the Federal Department of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) has made clear that they will prosecute Texans under federal law for the creation, sale, repair, or possession of suppressor devices.
Does Texas restrict magazine capacity?
No, Texas has no restrictions on magazine capacity.
Do you have to register your firearm in Texas?
No, you do not have to register your firearms in Texas.
Can you carry a gun in a Texas State Park?
Yes, it is legal to carry a firearm in a Texas State Park, a State or National Forest, State Game Management Areas, and also in Texas roadside rest areas.
Do you have to obey No Gun Signs in Texas?
Yes, but only certain kinds. 30.06 signs (concealed carry), 30.07 signs (open carry) and 51% signs (alcohol) in the necessary format are all legally enforceable and you must obey them. Non-standard signs such as just a gun with line through it saying “No Guns Allowed” are not legally enforceable and you do not have to comply.
Does Texas have a waiting period for buying a gun?
No, Texas does not have a waiting period for purchasing firearms. You can go and purchase a gun and take it home the same day.