When people think of Texas they often think of amazing BBQ, big hair, the Alamo, and football as a way of life. But what many others often associate with Texas is its strong advocacy for the Second Amendment’s Right to Bear Arms.
Whether it’s for hunting, target shooting, or protection; many residents of the Lone Star State have a license to carry weapons. But while guns are allowed in many places, there are specific situations in which it is still illegal to carry a firearm in Texas.
5 Situations Where Carrying a Firearm Is Illegal
1. Minors, Felons, and Those Convicted of Domestic Violence
Under the Texas Penal Code, you are prohibited from owning a gun if you:
- Have been convicted of a felony
- Are currently under a domestic violence restraining order
- Are here under a non-immigrant visa
- Were dishonorably discharged from the military
- Are under the age of 18 (for rifles) or 21 (for handguns)
While it’s illegal for a minor to own a firearm, minors may still use firearms for hunting or protection.
2. Gun-Free Zones
If you are in a gun-free zone, you may not carry your weapon – even though you have a license. Such zones are located at the following:
- Public school property
- Places of school activity
- College campuses (that have established gun-free zones)
- Government court buildings
- Most bars
- Polling places
- Businesses that bring in more than 50% of their income from selling alcohol
- Businesses that have established gun-free zones
However, it should be noted that you could still carry your guns if you are in the process of going to or from your home.
3. If You’re Intoxicated
There’s a reason why you aren’t allowed to carry your weapon within bars or businesses that derive more than half of their income from alcohol sales. It’s never a good idea to have a gun on you when you drink. Therefore if you are planning on drinking you may not carry a firearm. If you become intoxicated you are no longer permitted to carry your gun.
If you are charged with a DUI, your sentence can greatly increase for also having a firearm on you at the time.
4. Unlicensed (Depending on the Circumstances)
Generally speaking, you don’t need a permit to carry your weapons on your own property or in your own boat or car while traveling. However, if you are walking anywhere you cannot bring a firearm without first obtaining a license. To obtain a license you must be a state resident and pass a background check. However, even if you have a license to carry, you must still carry your weapon in a shoulder holster or belt – never in your hands. If you intentionally show your handgun while in a public area, you can be charged with unlawfully carrying a firearm. If you are on foot without a license, you can be charged with the same.
5. If You’re a Member of a Criminal Gang
Under Texas law, you are also prohibited from carrying a firearm if you are suspected of being a member of a criminal gang. Even those who aren’t gang members can be charged if you are mistaken as one by police. You can be arrested for unlawfully carrying a weapon.
So how do police determine if you are a member of a criminal gang? For you to be a member of a criminal gang, you would have to be a part of a group of at least three people who regularly commit criminal acts. Additionally, for a group to be considered a criminal gang you must have an identifiable leader as well as some type of sign, tattoo, logo, etc.
Unlawfully carrying a weapon is considered a Class A misdemeanor in Texas. However, if you are carrying your firearm in an area that serves alcoholic beverages, your charge can be upgraded to a third-degree felony.
Penalties for Class A Misdemeanors:
- Up to one year in jail
- Fines of up to $4,000
- Potential community service
- Potential probation period
Penalties for Third-Degree Felonies include harsher penalties than the aforementioned, and you will be banned from lawfully purchasing or carrying a firearm again.
The Attorneys at Ceja Law Firm Help Those in Houston Who Desire to Have Their Criminal Record Sealed
If you have been convicted of a crime in Texas but desire to have your record sealed, it is important to consult with a knowledgeable and experienced criminal law attorney.
At Ceja Law Firm PLLC, we understand the repercussions that a criminal conviction can have on your life. That’s why we will work to help you obtain the best possible outcome. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation, contact us today!