concealed pistol in belt

Open and Concealed Carry: Gun Laws in Texas

By Jose Ceja
Managing Attorney

Texas has long been known as a state proud of its right to bear arms. But while many people in Texas do own a gun, the state still has the power to regulate when and where its citizens are allowed to carry their weapons in order to maintain safety.

When it comes to carrying shotguns or rifles, there are fewer restrictions. Only a few people (e.g. recent felons) and a few places (e.g. schools) are prohibited. However, when it comes to a handgun, owners must have a license to carry it when off of their property – whether they carry it openly or conceal it. 

Mandatory License

Whether you intend to do so or not, Texas makes it illegal to carry a handgun without a license unless you are on property that you control or own, or if you are directly on the way to a boat or other motor vehicle that you control or own. 

Even those who have a gun license must still conceal their handguns when carrying or must place them in a shoulder or belt holster. Those who fail to do so can be charged with a crime for purposefully displaying their weapon. However, the exception to this is if you bring your weapon out in self-defense or for another reason that would allow the use of force. Additionally, even those who legally own a handgun may not legally carry while intoxicated. This is against the law. 

Other exceptions to these restrictions include those who are:

  • Traveling (this is determined by the court);
  • Engaged in, or on the way to or from legal hunting or another sporting activity (but only if the gun is a type commonly used for that activity); or
  • An on-duty police officer or other personnel specifically authorized to carry a handgun.

Who Can Obtain a License to Carry?

Those who wish to obtain a license to carry a handgun must complete a gun safety course in order to show that they can safely and properly use one. They must also:

  • Be a resident of the state of Texas;
  • Be at least 21 years old (or at least 18 years old if a current member of the military or a vet who has been honorably discharged);
  • Pass a background check to ensure that the applicant does not have a specific type of criminal history;
  • Not be suffering from certain psychiatric conditions, or dependent upon certain chemicals;
  • Not be found legally delinquent on child-support or tax payments 

There are also federal prohibitions on obtaining a license to carry a gun. These include that the applicant must:

  • Not have been convicted of a felony or a domestic violence misdemeanor;
  • Not be subject to a domestic violence restraining order;
  • Be in the country legally (and not under a nonimmigrant visa);
  • Not have been dishonorably discharged from the military;
  • Not have moved in order to avoid being arrested or punished for a crime; and
  • Not use controlled drugs illegally.

Third-Degree Felony

It is illegal and you can be convicted of a third-degree felony if you carry any guns onto the certain property, such as:

  • Anywhere there are school-related activities (e.g. school buses, school buildings, etc.)
  • In court buildings or offices
  • At racetracks
  • At polling places (during elections)

It is also a Class A misdemeanor for license holders to visibly carry a handgun on a college or university campus. This may also be the case for carrying a concealed weapon depending upon the school’s policies. 

The Attorneys at Ceja Law Firm Help Those in Houston Who Have Been Charged with Illegally Carrying a Firearm

There are many different laws surrounding when and where a legal gun owner can carry their weapon. While every gun owner should familiarize themselves with these laws, sometimes unintentional things occur. If you have been charged with carrying a weapon in a prohibited manner, it can have many serious consequences on your life. Consulting with a knowledgeable and experienced Houston criminal defense attorney can help to inform you of your rights and walk you through the legal process. 

At Ceja Law Firm PLLC, we understand the serious nature of such a criminal charge. 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!

About the Author
Jose Ceja is the managing attorney of Ceja Law Firm. He has practiced law since 2007 and has devoted his career to the practice of criminal law. Mr. Ceja began his legal career as a felony drug prosecutor, where he prosecuted drug, gang, and violent offenses. Mr. Ceja has first or second chaired almost 100 trials, including murders, drug cases, DWIs, and assaults. In his career as a defense attorney, he has regularly obtained dismissals, not guilty verdicts, and grand jury “no bills” in a wide variety of cases.