The Permitless Carry Law in Texas

In September 2021, Texas became the 21st state to adopt permitless carry, also known as constitutional carry, a controversial law that allows most adults to openly carry handguns without a license. This new law, officially known as HB 1927, has sparked debates across the state regarding gun safety, the Second Amendment, and the impact on law enforcement officers. In this post, we’ll break down what permitless carry means in Texas and how it affects gun owners and the general public.

Texas Handgun Permitless Carry Law: Understanding HB 1927

Before the enactment of HB 1927, Texans were required to possess a license to carry (LTC) handgun, regardless of whether it was an openly displayed or concealed firearm. Obtaining a license means undergoing:

  • Fingerprinting
  • License to carry lessons
  • Proper firearm storage
  • Passing a written examination
  • Completing a shooting proficiency test

Effective September 1, 2021, HB 1927 authorized most individuals aged 21 and above in Texas to carry a handgun in a holster without the need for a permit, whether openly displayed or concealed. Permitless carry in Texas, also known as constitutional or unlicensed carry, has its critics. Critics argue that the new law could make law enforcement’s job harder, increase firearm-related accidents and deaths, and change the previous open carry law from 2016 by removing the need for a carry license.

Who is Authorized to Permitlessly Carry a Gun?

House Bill 1927, known as Permitless Carry, doesn’t remove the License to Carry a Handgun Program. As of 2021, those who qualify can carry a handgun in public in Texas without a license. However, getting a license still has additional benefits.

Sections 46.02 and 46.04 of Texas law talk about carrying guns illegally and having guns. Generally, to carry a handgun in public without a license, you must:

  • Be at least 21 years old, or 18 years old if in the military
  • Did not have certain recent misdemeanor convictions
  • Did not have any past felony convictions
  • Not be under a current protective order
  • Not be federally banned from having a firearm

These amendments did not grant the right to carry a pistol to anyone who was previously prohibited from doing so.

Where Can You Carry a Gun in Texas?

The new gun law in Texas specifies where you can carry a gun legally. You can carry a gun without a permit anywhere allowed by law. However, the law makes it illegal to carry guns in certain places. In Texas, you can’t carry guns in:

  • Elementary and high school
  • Private colleges and universities
  • Businesses that sell alcohol
  • Within 1000 feet of a Texas prison
  • Federal facilities
  • Secured areas of the airport
  • Post offices
  • Mental health facilities
  • Dog and horse race tracks
  • Polling and voting area

It’s important to note that in 2023, the Texas Senate passed a measure to change a law about selling firearms to people aged 16 to 18 unintentionally placed in mental health facilities. Some mental health hospitalizations reported to the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) were incorrect. This matters because the DPS forwards this information to the FBI’s federal gun background check system.

Carrying Firearms Legally in Texas

The permitless carry law sets rules on how you can carry a firearm in public legally. Carrying a handgun in your pocket or purse and transporting it to the grocery store is prohibited. To avoid getting arrested for breaking the law, you must follow certain rules.

The law now says you must carry a handgun in a holster if you want to carry it legally in Texas. You have the option to carry your handgun in a holster secured to your belly band, waistband, ankle, pocket, or thigh.

You’re also allowed to carry a handgun in your vehicle or on your boat legally. However, your firearm must not be visible. Store your gun in a secure spot, like the glove compartment or center console, where it is not visible.

Gun Charges in Texas

Breaking any of these rules can lead to serious consequences. According to Texas Penal Code Section 46.02, those found guilty of unlawfully carrying a firearm can face a Class A misdemeanor, which can result in:

  • Fines of up to $4,000
  • Up to 1 year in jail

If the unlawful carry happens in a business with a liquor license or one that sells alcohol, the penalties are harsher. It becomes a third-degree felony, with penalties including:

  • Fines of up to $10,000
  • 2 to 10 years in state prison

Other New Texas Gun Laws

There are also additional new gun laws in Texas that started on September 1, 2023. They include:

House Bill 2837: This law stops financial institutions from making gun purchases using a specific merchant category code (MCC) for gun purchases. It protects the privacy of legal gun buyers by preventing payment systems from collecting data that could reveal firearm transactions.

House Bill 1760: Limits where guns can’t be carried to school properties or places with school activities. This prevents gun-free zones from being declared off-campus during educational activities.

House Bill 3137: This law extends the Texas firearms preemption law to prohibit counties and cities from requiring gun owners to purchase liability insurance.

Arrested? Don’t Plea, Call Me!

Understanding the complexities of the Texas Permitless Carry Law, HB 1927, is crucial for gun owners and the public. While the law grants more freedom regarding firearm carry, it also comes with responsibilities and restrictions. Violating HB 1927 can lead to serious consequences, including criminal charges and penalties.

If you’re facing such charges, it’s essential to seek legal counsel from a qualified criminal defense attorney. A skilled attorney can assess your case, explain your rights, and provide the best defense strategy to protect your rights and interests.