Firearm Rights and Responsibilities in the State
For many Texans, carrying a firearm is a cherished right that they vigorously protect. In some cases, it is what draws people to the state. While Texas has some of the most lenient gun laws in the nation, there are still significant restrictions regarding who, where, and how they can be carried.
At Maverick Ray & Associates, we represent individuals who have been charged with violating gun laws in the state. We are fierce protectors of a person’s right to carry and we fight hard to get criminal charges reduced or dismissed in every case possible. If you have been charged with a gun law violation, contact our office at (281) 947-2007 for a free, no-obligation consultation.
Who Can Carry a Gun in Texas?
On September 1, 2021, Texas expanded gun rights under the Firearm Carry Act of 2021. The new act allows Texans over the age of 21 to carry a firearm without a permit. Before this act was passed, eligible people had to get a license to carry.
Requirements for carrying a firearm without a permit under the “Carry Act” include:
- You must be 21 years or older;
- You cannot be a convicted felon under Texas Penal Code 46.04;
- It cannot be in violation of federal law to carry the firearm;
- You cannot be intoxicated or mentally incompetent;
- You cannot be convicted of certain misdemeanor offenses, including assault; and
- You cannot be subject to an active protective under as defined by state law.
If you are unsure whether you are eligible to carry a firearm without a license, you should consult with an attorney familiar with Texas gun laws. Illegally carrying a gun can have extensive penalties, including a fine of up to $10,000 and imprisonment.
Does the New Law Allow People to Carry Who Were Previously Prohibited?
The Firearm Carry Act of 2021 does not expand gun rights to individuals who were previously prohibited from carrying a gun under state or federal law.
The legislation expressly states that individuals who are currently prohibited from possessing a firearm under state and federal law do not gain the right to possess or carry firearms. Therefore, if you were not eligible to legally carry a gun before the new law was passed, then you are still not eligible to own or carry. The Firearm Carry Act does not change eligibility laws for owning or carrying firearms.
Can I Still Obtain a License to Carry?
Even though eligible people are allowed to carry a gun without a license in Texas, you may still obtain a license to carry a firearm. A “license to carry” allows you to legally carry the gun to more locations than if you did not have a license.
Where Can I Carry?
In Texas, a person can now carry a firearm without a permit in most public places; however, there are some limitations.
Public places where you may not be allowed to carry a firearm:
- Schools or educational institutions (unless otherwise allowed by the institution)
- Polling places during voting
- Court or government offices
- High school, college, and professional sporting events
- Correctional facilities
Private businesses may also limit your right to enter their premises with a gun, but they must provide notice. If you decide to carry a gun, make sure you view the list of where guns are prohibited in the state. Knowing your rights is critical to avoiding criminal charges.
How Can I Carry?
Under Texas law, a person may openly carry a gun in a holster. Before the new firearm act was passed, holders of a concealed handgun license were allowed to openly carry a handgun as long as it was in a belt or holster. The new law removed the language regarding a “belt” and left the term “holster” undefined.
What Is the “Stand Your Ground” Doctrine?
The “Stand Your Ground” doctrine is a legal principle that states you may use force against another person if you have a reasonable belief that using force is necessary to protect yourself, others, or your property.
The stand your ground doctrine is addressed in Texas Penal Code, Chapter 9, Subchapter C “Protection of Persons.” Under these provisions, the use of force is justified in several instances, including if you knew or had reason to believe that the person unlawfully and with force entered or was attempting to enter your home, vehicle, or place of business.
Subchapter D extends a person’s right to use force if they believe that the person is trespassing or unlawfully interfering with their property. This is often referred to as the “castle doctrine.” In most cases, you are not legally required to run away or leave the scene if someone is trespassing or interfering with your property.
What Is Brandishing a Firearm?
Texas law does not legally define “brandishing.” However, the term is often used to describe unlawfully or intentionally revealing your firearm in public. Texas allows most people who are over the age of 21 to carry a handgun in a holster, which does not violate any “brandishing” laws.
However, you are not allowed to intentionally display your gun in plain view of another person in a public area unless it is in its holster.
Can a Felon Have a Gun?
While Texas recognizes an individual’s right to keep and bear arms in Section 23, Article I of the state constitution is limited.
Individuals who have been convicted of a felony and have not reached their fifth anniversary from the date of release (or release from supervision) are prohibited from possessing a firearm.
Violating Section 46.04 of the Texas Penal Code “Unlawful Possession of Firearm” can result in a felony conviction.
Can I Own a Gun If I Have a Criminal Background?
If you have been convicted of a felony crime in Texas, you may not legally own a gun until it’s been 5 years since you were released from confinement or supervision, whichever date is later.
Additionally, individuals who have been convicted of certain assault offenses involving members of a person’s family or household may be prohibited from possessing a gun. People who are the subject of a protective order or are prevented by federal law are also prohibited from possessing or carrying a firearm.
Charged with a Gun Law Violation? Contact Our Office Today!
While lenient, the gun laws in Texas are complex. A violation of unlawful carry or possession of a firearm can have serious consequences and may affect your freedom. If you are charged with a weapons violation, you need an aggressive attorney that will fight to protect your rights.
Contact Maverick Ray & Associates today for a free consultation. If you have been charged with a gun law violation, call (281) 947-2007 to speak directly with an experienced attorney. We firmly believe in a citizen’s right to keep and bear arms. Call now to get started.