When it comes to gun laws, Texas is a state that fully believes in the 2nd Amendment right to bear arms. While many Texans own firearms, there are specific rules and regulations regarding the sale, possession, and use of firearms and ammunition.
Purchasing a Firearm
In Texas, a long gun (rifles or shot guns) can be purchased by any non-felon over the age of 18 who has a valid form of identification. In order to purchase a hand gun, a person must be a non-felon over the age of 21 with a valid I.D. No permits are required to purchase a gun in Texas, and the owner of a gun is not required to register it.
Open Carry of a Firearm
There is no law in Texas prohibiting the open carry of a long gun; however, openly carrying a long gun must be done in a way that is not calculated to cause alarm. For many years it was prohibited for a person to open carry a handgun, however, as of January 1, 2016 any resident of Texas that hold a conceal carry license will be permitted to openly carry a gun law. Non-residents of Texas will be allowed to open carry a handgun if they hold a conceal carry license that is recognized by Texas.
While open carry of a handgun is prohibited in public, and will continue to be in 2016 unless a person has a license, a handgun owner is allowed to openly carry on any property he or she owns, while legally hunting, or while participating in a sanctioned public event related to guns, like a public gun show.
Concealed Handgun License
A concealed carry permit in Texas is called a Concealed Handgun License (CHL). When the open carry laws change on January 1, 2016 the permit will change to License to Carry (LTC). A concealed carry permit is open to anyone who meets state and federal eligibility requirements. There are several things that would make a person ineligible for a concealed carry permit, such as:
- Pending criminal charges.
- A current protective or restraining order against the person.
- Felony or Domestic Violence convictions (permanent ban), or Class A or B misdemeanors (5 years from date of conviction).
- Dependency on drugs or alcohol (2 or more convictions for a drug or alcohol related offense in a 10 year period).
- Evidence of certain untreated psychological conditions (may be lifted if a doctor testifies that the condition is under control).
- Owing back taxes to the state, delinquent child support, or defaulting on a federal student loan.
In order to obtain a concealed carry permit, a person must take a 4 to 6 hour training course taught by a licensed instructor. After the course is successfully finished, a person can fill out an application, provide fingerprints, undergo a federal criminal background check, and pay an application fee.
No Duty to Retreat
Texas has adopted the Castle Doctrine and the Stand Your Ground Law, which mandates that a person has no duty to retreat and may defend him or herself through any means necessary, including deadly force. The Castle Doctrine applies to intruders unlawfully and forcibly entering, or attempting, to enter a residence. Under the Castle Doctrine, the person occupying the home is permitted to shoot the intruder without repercussion if he or she feels threatened and fears bodily harm or being killed.
The Stand Your Ground Law is very similar to the Castle Doctrine, but it applies to any area outside the home that a person has a right to be at. With this law, there will be no criminal charges if there is reasonable evidence to show that a shooting was in self-defense.
In addition to protecting a person from criminal charges after a self-defense shooting, the Castle Doctrine and Stand Your Ground Law prohibit the person who was shot from trying to file a civil lawsuit against the shooter to recover monetary damages. If a self-defense shooting results in the death of an assailant, his or her family will not be entitled to file a civil wrongful death suit against the shooter. The civil immunity does not extend to protection against any by-standers that are injured during the course of a justified shooting.