Open and Concealed Gun Carry Laws in Texas

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. (Tex. Penal Code Ann. § 46.02.)

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, unless they obtain a non-resident license (Tex. Gov't Code Ann. § 411.173.)

  • people convicted of a felony offense or convicted of the commission of certain misdemeanors within the last five years

  • people charged with certain misdemeanors or equivalent offenses, or a felony under an information or indictment

  • 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 for felonies and certain misdemeanors

  • chemically dependent people

  • people making material misrepresentations or failing to disclose material facts in a handgun license application

  • those incapable of exercising sound judgment regarding the proper use of a handgun, and

  • people who are not qualified to purchase a handgun under federal and state law.

(Tex. Gov't Code Ann. § 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--however, a concealed weapons permit holder can have a gun wholly or partially visible in a shoulder or belt holster. (Tex. 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. (Tex. 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 (Tex. Pen. Code § 46.03.)

  • on the premises of any government court or court offices, unless allowed by written regulations or authorization of the court (Tex. Pen. Code § § 46.03.)

  • on the premises of a racetrack (Tex. Pen. Code § § 46.03.)

  • in a secured area of an airport (Tex. Pen. Code § 46.035.)

  • in certain cases, within 1,000 feet of jails or prison premises designated as places of execution (Tex. Pen. Code § 46.03.)

  • on the premises of a correctional facility (Tex. Pen. Code § § 46.03.)

  • in an amusement park (Tex. Pen. Code § 46.035.)

  • on church or synagogue premises (Tex. Pen. Code § 46.035.)

  • in a hospital (Tex. Pen. Code §46.035.)

  • on school premises or on a school bus (Tex. Pen. Code §§ 46.03, 46.035.)

  • in an establishment licensed to sell liquor when that business derives 51 percent or more of its income from liquor sales (Texas Tex. Pen. Code § 46.035.)

Penalties for Gun Carry Violations

In Texas, penalties for gun carry violations vary, from Class C misdemeanors to felony of the third degree. Penalties may include a fine of up to $4,000, 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. (Tex. Penal Code §§ 12.21, 12.34, 46.02, 46.03, 46.035).

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.

Updated June 26, 2018

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