Open and Concealed Gun Carry Laws in Texas
NOLO Local Defense Lawyers
Enter your zip code to find local criminal defense lawyers.
Texas protects the right to bear arms under Article I, Section 23 of the state constitution, but this does not mean that everyone may carry a gun, or that you may always carry a gun wherever you like. Texas requires a concealed carry permit to carry a weapon concealed on (or near) you body or vehicle unless you are in your own premises (or premises under your control, such as a house that you rent), or inside (or directly en route to) your motor vehicle or watercraft. (Texas Stat. & Code Ann. § 46.02.)
For more information on permitting laws, see Gun Laws in Texas.
The following sections explain who may not have a gun, and the circumstances or situations when carrying a gun is illegal.
People Who May Not Carry a Gun in Texas
The following individuals are prohibited from carrying a weapon (open or concealed) in Texas.
- people younger than 21 years
- people who are not legal residents of Texas for at least six months prior to the date of application
- people convicted of a felony offense or charged with the commission of specified misdemeanors within the last five years
- someone who has committed an offense in the past ten years as a juvenile delinquent that, if committed as an adult, would have been a felony
- those under a court protective order or restraining order having to do with domestic offenses
- people who are delinquent in making child support payments as collected by the attorney general
- people who are delinquent in state tax payments
- fugitives from justice
- chemically dependent people
- those incapable of exercising sound judgment regarding the proper use of a handgun, and
- people who are not qualified to carry a handgun under federal law.
(Texas Pen. Code § 411.172.)
Situations or Circumstances Where Carrying a Gun is Illegal
The following rules govern when you may not carry a gun in Texas. These rules do not apply to active duty military personnel, prison guards, or court officers in the discharge of official duties.
- You may not openly carry a firearm in Texas. (Texas Pen. Code § 46.035.)
- Unless you are on your own premises, or in your own vehicle or watercraft, you may not carry a concealed firearm without a concealed carry permit. (Texas Pen. Code § 46.03.)
Even if you have a concealed carry permit, you cannot bring a gun into any of the following places:
- on the premises of a polling place on voting day, or while voting is taking place (Texas Pen. Code § 46.03.)
- on the premises of a racetrack (Texas Pen. Code §§ 46.03.)
- in a secured area of an airport (Texas Pen. Code § 46.035.)
- within 1,000 feet of jails or prison premises (Texas Pen. Code § 46.035.)
- in an amusement park (Texas Pen. Code § 46.035.)
- on church or synagogue premises (Texas Pen. Code § 46.035.)
- in a hospital (Texas Pen. Code §46.035.)
- on school premises or on a school bus (Texas Pen. Code § 46.03.)
- in an establishment licensed to sell liquor when that business derives 51 percent or more of its income from liquor sales (Texas Texas Pen. Code § 46.035.)
Penalties for Gun Carry Violations
In Texas, penalties for gun carry violations vary. Penalties may include a fine of up to $2,500, and up to a year in jail for some misdemeanor violations; and up to $10,000 in fines, and between two and ten years in prison for some felonies.
Getting Legal Help
The penalties for violating gun carry laws are serious, and often include harsh fines and long prison sentences. If you have any questions about whether you are allowed to carry a gun in Texas, or if you are facing charges for a gun violation, consult a qualified criminal defense lawyer.