Since January 1, 2016, Texas has allowed “open carry” — or wearing weapons in plain view in belt or shoulder holsters. That law was passed even though 75 percent of Texas police chiefs expressed opposition to open carry. Since then, lawmakers have passed more gun-related laws, several of which went into effect on September 1, 2019, and further loosened restrictions on open carry in Texas.
Now most Texans can carry a handgun in public without a special license to carry. Texans can also get a License to Carry (LTC) for additional benefits.
Who Can Open Carry in Texas?
Generally, Texans can carry in Texas if they meet the following requirements
– Be at least 21 years old
– Not have a prior felony conviction for which the punishment ended in the last five years and even after five years only at the person’s residence
– Not be a member of a criminal street gang
– Not have a conviction for family violence for which the punishment ended in the last five years
– Not be subject to a protective order
– Not be prohibited from carrying a firearm under federal law
– Not be intoxicated other than inside one’s residence or inside one’s vehicle. (If you drive while intoxicated, that is unlawful carry of a weapon.)
Open Carry Laws that went in effect September 2019
Here’s a quick rundown of new laws that went into effect on Sept. 1, 2019, in Texas.
- Senate Bill 535: allows Texans to carry guns in churches and other places of worship unless banned by those places with proper signage
- Senate Bill 741: prohibits property owners’ associations from banning storage of guns on rental properties
- House Bill 121: provides a legal defense for licensed handgun owners who unknowingly enter an establishment that bans firearms as long as they leave when asked
- House Bill 302: prohibits landlords from banning renters and their guests from carrying firearms in lease agreements
- House Bill 1387: loosens restrictions on the number of school marshals who can carry guns at public and private schools in Texas
- House Bill 1177: allows Texans to carry handguns without a license during a state of disaster
- House Bill 1143: prohibits school districts from banning licensed gun owners from storing guns in their vehicle in parking lots
- House Bill 2363: allows certain foster homes to store guns in locked locations.
Who Can Get a License to Carry in Texas?
A license to carry gives you additional rights, such as the ability to carry in a secured area like an airport, on a college campus, at a government meeting etc.
Generally, a person who has been a resident of the state for at least six months, who is at least 21 and has not been convicted of a felony and is of sound mind, may apply for a License to Carry. The exhaustive list of eligibility requirements includes:
- Age 21 or older, although certain military exemptions apply for servicemen and women;
- No felony convictions;
- You do not have a pending disorderly conduct charge;
- You are not being charged with felony;
- You have not a fugitive for anything other than a warrant based on a Class C citation;
- You are not chemically dependent;
- You are capable of exercising sound judgment with respect to the proper usage and storage of a handgun;
- You have not been convicted of any level of disorderly conduct in the last five years;
- You have not been convicted of any Class A or Class B offense in the last five years;
- You have never been convicted of a felony;
- You are qualified under federal law to purchase a firearm; (See 18 USC 44 §922.)
- You are not delinquent in making child support payments;
- You are not delinquent in paying your taxes;
- You are not subject to a protective order;
- You have not been adjudicated as having engaged in delinquent conduct in the last 10 years;
- You did not lie on your application.
Do I Need a License to Carry for Long Guns?
Long guns do not require a license to carry. The law only applies to handguns.
Can an Officer Stop Me for No Reason Other Than to Ask for my License to Carry?
No. An officer may not stop a person simply to determine if they have a License to Carry. While they may make a consensual encounter, the person with whom they are talking has the right to walk away, not answer questions, and not show their License to Carry. On the other hand, if the officer has reasonable suspicion or probable cause that an offense has or is occurring, they may legally stop that person. If you are legally stopped and asked then you must show the officer your License to Carry.
What If I Refuse to Show an Officer my License to Carry?
If a police officer has a valid reason to stop you and then asks to see your License to Carry, failure to show your license is a violation of Government Code Section 411.205. However, the penalty that existed for this offense was removed by the legislature. (A previous version of the statute provided that failure to show a license to carry will result in a suspension of the license for a period of 90 days. A subsequent offense was a Class B misdemeanor.) For now, it is a violation without a penalty.
How Will a Criminal Conviction Affect my Ability to Get a License to Carry Under Texas law?
- A conviction for a Class C disorderly conduct charge will result in a five-year suspension in the ability to obtain a License to Carry.
- Any Class B or Class A conviction will result in a five-year suspension in the ability to obtain a license to carry.
- Any felony conviction will result in the loss of the privilege to obtain a license to carry.
Can I Carry a Handgun on a University Campus?
Yes, but the firearm must be concealed when carrying on campus, which means it must be hidden in a holster, tucked in a backpack or purse. Institutions of higher learning do not allow open carry. You cannot openly carry a gun on campus. Read more about Campus Carry in Texas.
The law still prohibits the carry of firearms (and other weapons) in the following locations:
- A polling place
- A court or office used by a court
- A racetrack
- In the secured area of an airport
- Within 1,000 feet of a state execution.
Until August 1, 2016, Penal Code 46.035 prohibited the carry of a handgun, even with a License to Carry, in the following locations:
- A business that gets 51 percent or more of its income from the sale of alcohol
- School, collegiate, or professional sporting events
- A correctional facility
- Hospitals and nursing facilities
- Amusement parks
Does Being Intoxicated Affect the Ability to Carry with a License to Carry?
Yes. It is an offense to carry a handgun, even with a License to Carry, if the person carrying the handgun is intoxicated.