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Texas Gun Control Laws

Texas gun control laws are among the least restrictive in the U.S. While machine guns, saw-off shotguns, silencers, armor-piercing bullets, zip guns, and explosive weapons are in most cases prohibited by state law, Texas does not have a waiting period for gun purchases. Additionally, Texas allows all qualified applicants to carry a concealed firearm with a permit.

Learn more about Texas gun control laws in the table below.

Relevant Statutes (Laws)

Texas Penal Code, Title 10, Chapter 46 Weapons, Sections 46.01 through 46.15 Texas Government Code, Title 4, Chapter 411 Weapons, Sections 411.171 through 411.209

Illegal Arms

The following firearms and ammunition are prohibited in Texas, unless they are validly registered under federal law:
  • Machine guns
  • Short-barrel firearms
  • Armor-piercing ammunition
  • Zip guns

Waiting Period

Texas does not require a waiting period to purchase a firearm.

Who May Not Own

Texas has few prohibitions against people owning or possessing guns. Texas's only prohibitions are the following:
  • A person convicted of a felony may not possess a firearm before the fifth anniversary of the person's release from confinement or from supervision under community supervision, parole, or mandatory supervision. After five years, a person convicted of a felony only may possess a firearm at the premises where they live.
  • A person convicted of some domestic violence offenses may not possess a firearm before the fifth anniversary of the person's release from confinement or from supervision.
  • A person under 21 years of age who is not on his own property cannot possess a handgun

License Required?

Texas does not require a license to own a firearm, but a license is required to carry a handgun.

Concealed Carry License Required?

A person must have a valid handgun license to carry a concealed handgun in Texas.

Open Carried Allowed?

Texas prohibits the open carrying of loaded or unloaded handguns without a license to carry. However, a person with a handgun license may carry a visible handgun in a holster if they also are carrying their handgun license.

There is an exception for college campuses. In general, a person may not display a handgun, holstered or not, on a college campus (public or private, if prohibited by the private institution and notice is given).

Eligibility for a Concealed Carry License

In Texas, a person is eligible for a license to carry a handgun if the person:
  • Is a legal resident of Texas for the six-month period preceding the application date or is eligible for a non-resident license
  • Is at least 21 years old
  • Has not been convicted of a felony
  • Is not charged with a Class A or Class B misdemeanor or an equivalent offense, disorderly conduct, or a felony
  • Is not a fugitive from justice for a felony or a Class A or Class B misdemeanor or equivalent offense
  • Is not a chemically dependent person
  • Is not incapable of exercising sound judgment with respect to the proper use and storage of a handgun
  • Has not, in the five years preceding the date of application, been convicted of a Class A or Class B misdemeanor or equivalent offense or disorderly conduct
  • Is fully qualified under applicable federal and state law to purchase a handgun
  • Has not been finally determined to be delinquent in making a child support payment
  • Has not been finally determined to be delinquent in the payment of taxes
  • Is not currently restricted under a court protective order or subject to a restraining order affecting the spousal relationship, other than a restraining order solely affecting property interests
  • Has not, in the 10 years preceding the date of application, been adjudicated as having engaged in delinquent conduct violating a penal law of the grade of felony
  • Has not made any material misrepresentation, or failed to disclose any material fact, in an application submitted pursuant to Section 411.174

Machine Gun Laws

Possessing, manufacturing, transporting, repairing, or selling a machine gun is illegal in Texas unless the machine gun is registered in compliance with federal law.

Penalties for Illegal Firearm Possession

In Texas, illegal firearm possession can be a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the type of weapon and where the weapon is carried.
  • Unlawful carrying a handgun without a license is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to 1 year imprisonment and up to a $4,000 fine.
  • Unlawful carrying a handgun without a license at place where alcohol is sold is a felony of the third degree punishable by 2 to 10 years imprisonment and up to a $10,000 fine.
  • Possession of an illegal firearm is a felony of the third degree punishable by 2 to 10 years imprisonment and up to a $10,000 fine.
  • Possession of a firearm on property with a conspicuously posted sign notifying that firearms are prohibited on the premises is a Class C misdemeanor punishable by a fine not to exceed $200.
  • Possession of a firearm on property with a conspicuously posted sign notifying that firearms are prohibited on the premises is a Class A misdemeanor if a person refuses to leave after being asked.

Penalties for Illegal Possession on or Near School Grounds

It is illegal to intentionally or knowingly possess a firearm on school grounds, school buses, or property where a school activity is conducted, unless the firearm is a handgun and the carrier has a valid license for a handgun, the carrier has written permission, or the school's written regulations allow a person to possess a weapon. Illegal possession on school grounds is a felony of the third degree punishable by 2 to 10 years imprisonment and up to a $10,000 fine.  
Places Where Possession of a Firearm is Prohibited
  • Bars and other places that derive more than 51% of sales from alcohol
  • School sporting events, unless the firearm is used in the event
  • Correctional facility
  • Civil commitment facility
  • Licensed hospital, unless authorized in writing
  • Licensed mental hospital, unless authorized in writing
  • Amusement parks
  • A room where an open governmental meeting is held if notice is provided
 

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Research the Law

Need More Information on Texas Gun Control Laws? An Attorney Can Help

If you would like to know more about Texas firearm laws, there are many attorneys throughout the state with criminal defense experience who may be able to help. In addition to helping you with criminal charges, an attorney that is especially knowledgeable about Texas firearm regulations may be able to help you reclaim unlawfully confiscated firearms and restore an improperly revoked concealed carry license.

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