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State Bar of Texas

A Brief Summary of Texas Gun Laws

Jerry W. Tidwell, Jr.

Gun collecting is a popular hobby in Texas.

Gun collecting is a popular hobby in Texas.

Although many people buy guns because they want to hunt, others are simply gun enthusiasts who like collecting guns and maybe shooting them on the range.
Whatever your reason for wanting a gun, Texas has numerous gun laws. Generally, this is a pro-gun state, and the state has few legal requirements you must follow to buy or possess a firearm.

Read on for a brief summary of Texas gun laws.

Constitutional Right

Texas’ Constitution explicitly provides for gun rights in Article 1, Section 23, which states that “every citizen” has the right “to keep and bear arms in the lawful defense of himself” or of the state of Texas.

However, the state Constitution also gives the Legislature the power to regulate the carrying of arms with the goal of preventing crime.

This means that, basically, Texas regulates who can carry a gun and in what circumstances. It does not regulate who can own a gun.

Permits and Licenses—Rifles and Shotguns

Texas does not require registration, licenses, or permits for any rifle or shotgun. You are free to have those without needing to do anything with the state.
If you just moved to Texas, congratulations! Although you might have needed to register your rifles and shotguns with your former state, here in Texas you are free to enjoy them.

If you decide to carry a rifle or shot gun, you are free to do so without a permit. However, you need to do so in a way that doesn’t alarm anyone. Carrying it with the barrel pointing at people is probably not a good idea, but you could sling it over your shoulder, for example, or attach it to a strap and carry it on your back.

Permits and Licenses—Handguns

Texas does not require that you register or license a handgun. But if you want to carry one, you do need a License To Carry (LTC) permit.
You can apply for your handgun license online. You will need the following information:

  • Valid driver’s license/state ID
  • Current address
  • Current employment information
  • Residential and employment information for the past 5 years
  • Email address
  • Credit card

Waiting Periods and IDs

There is no waiting period in Texas to buy a firearm. As soon as you want one, you can head out and buy one.

To buy a gun from an FFL, you will need a state-issued ID. However, if you are not from Texas, an FFL might not sell to you. They are required to uphold the gun laws for a person’s resident state. So if you drive down from Illinois, the FFL would need to follow Illinois law. Rather than go through this hassle, they probably will not sell to you. Be sure to call ahead of time and check.

Limitations on Where You Can Carry

You cannot carry any weapon in a school zone. There are also some bans on carrying weapons in a restaurant or other business posting gun signs (Trespass by License Holder).


Many people travel to Texas, either for vacation or business. Each state can set its own gun laws, so there is always a question about someone coming into Texas with a handgun from out of state.
Obviously, it is not realistic to expect someone to get a Texas handgun license before they drive into the state.

For this reason, Texas will recognize a concealed carry permit from another state as valid. People from Texas can also have their permit recognized when they go to another reciprocity state.

However, Texas does not recognize reciprocity with respect to all weapons. It does not recognize ownership of short barreled weapons, explosive weapons, machine guns, or silencers.

Gun Laws for Those with Criminal Records

As favorable as the state’s gun laws are, not everyone can possess or carry a gun in Texas. In fact, federal law prohibits anyone convicted of a felony and anyone subject to a domestic violence protective order from possessing a firearm. Federal law has extended the firearms ban to anyone convicted of a “misdemeanor crime of domestic violence.”

Stand Your Ground Law and Castle Doctrine

Throughout history, criminal law has allowed people to use self-defense if necessary.

Nevertheless, the law did expect people to try to flee from violence if it was safe to do so. Like other states, Texas has changed its laws and now allows you to “stand your ground” and use deadly force in some circumstances, even if you could flee.

The key is that you must have a reasonable belief of bodily harm or death and be in your home, car, or at your job when you use lethal force.
Someone who accidentally bumps you on the sidewalk has not created a reasonable belief of bodily harm so you can’t turn around and shoot them. Conversely, someone coming at you with a knife might create a reasonable belief of harm, depending on how close they are to you.

You also cannot have provoked the person you shoot, meaning you can’t have started the fight. You also cannot have been breaking any laws at the time you use deadly force in self-defense.

For More Information about Gun Laws in Texas, Contact the Tidwell Law Firm

Texas has favorable gun laws relative to the rest of the U.S. However, all visitors and residents should know what they are so that they abide by them.
At Tidwell Law Firm, our Collin County criminal defense attorneys are here to help you if you have questions about our state’s gun laws.

For more information, or to schedule a free consultation, please contact us today.

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