Texas Gun Laws on Open and Concealed Carry

Learn who may or may not carry a gun in Texas—and the few places guns are prohibited.

By , Legal Editor
Updated July 19, 2021

Although the Texas Constitution protects the right to bear arms for legal self-defense, it also gives the state the power to regulate carrying guns in order to prevent crime (Tex. Const. art. I, § 23). The state has no laws that restrict carrying rifles and shotguns, other than general gun prohibitions for a few people (including recent felons) and at at few places (such as K-12 schools). And as of September 1, 2021, Texas no longer requires a license to carry a handgun for anyone 21 or older. Read on for details about the state's gun carry laws.

Carrying or Displaying a Handgun in Texas

Although Texas still issues licenses to carry handgun, you no longer need a permit to carry a handgun in most places, unless you are younger than 21 or can't legally have any gun.

However, it is still a crime in Texas to display a handgun on purpose in a public place, in another person's plain view, unless the gun is holstered. It's also illegal to carry a handgun under the following circumstances:

  • if you've been convicted of a certain type of violent crime within the past five years
  • if you are legally prohibited from possessing any firearm (as discussed below)
  • if you're intoxicated and aren't on your property, in your car or boat, or directly en route to your car or boat (or the private property, car, or boat or someone else who has given you consent to be there); or
  • in certain places where guns are restricted (more on that below).

(Tex. Penal Code §§ 46.02 (2021).)

Places in Texas Where It's Illegal to Carry a Gun

It's a crime to have any guns in certain Texas locations, including:

  • schools, school buses, and anywhere school activities are taking place (but see special rules for handguns at colleges and universities, discussed below)
  • wherever sporting events are being held (whether professional, school, or interscholastic)
  • at businesses that get more than half of their income from on-premises sale of alcohol
  • at hospitals and nursing homes
  • at polling places during elections or early voting
  • in court buildings or offices, and
  • at racetracks.

Violations are either a third-degree felony or a Class A misdemeanor, depending on the location. (Tex. Penal Code § 46.03 (2021).)

Special Texas Rules for Handguns on College Campuses

Texas law specifically allows license holders to carry concealed handguns on post-secondary school campuses, except on portions of the campuses of private institutions that have established rules prohibiting concealed handguns in certain areas, as long as the schools have posted proper notices about the prohibition.

It's also a crime for a license holder to carry a handgun openly (even in a holster) on the premises of any institution of higher education that has prohibited open carry and has posted proper notices. (Tex. Penal Code § 46.03 (2021).)

Getting Legal Help

If you've been charged a crime for violating the Texas rules on carrying guns, you should consult with a qualified criminal defense lawyer who can help you prepare the best defense possible.

Look Out for Legal Changes

States can change their laws at any time, but you can check the current Texas statutes by using this search tool. However, court decisions may also affect the interpretation and application of laws, which is another good reason to speak with an attorney if you're worried about actual or potential criminal charges for carrying a gun.

Updated July 19, 2021

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