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Gun Laws and Rights in Texas

— February 26, 2021

Owning a rifle or handgun is part of your rights, but there are some restrictions imposed by state, local and federal governments to ensure your safety and that of those around you.

Knowing what the laws are surrounding your gun rights in Texas is the first step in exercising those rights. There are laws and regulations regarding the types of weapons you can own, how you can purchase and carry those weapons and even what training you need to complete before buying them. Most of these are determined on the federal level with states setting up more area specific details such as exceptions for hunting, waiting periods and ages. Following these regulations can help keep you and those around you safer, as well as keep you out of trouble with the law.

Weapon Types

Most weapon types are legal to buy and possess in Texas, with a few exceptions which align with federal gun laws. These exceptions include rifles with a barrel length of less than sixteen inches and shotguns with a barrel length of less than eighteen inches. You can legally own these weapons, as well as machine guns and silencers if you register them with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and pay a tax of two hundred dollars. If you are unsure if the weapon you own or want to purchase is legal in Texas, you can consult with an attorney like Courtney Sarofim to determine the laws and regulations around the weapon type.

Purchase Laws

Image of a Handgun
Handgun; image courtesy of
stevepb via Pixabay,

Purchase laws include those regarding who can legally sell firearms, what types of weapons can be sold by private dealers and what ages you need to be to buy specific weapons. For instance, if you are at least eighteen years old, you can buy a rifle from a licensed dealer, but will have to wait until you are twenty-one to purchase a handgun. You can legally possess a handgun if you are younger than eighteen, but not buy it yourself, if you meet exceptions such as defending yourself against an intruder or hunting. There are also some groups of people restricted from buying or possessing a firearm such as felons or those convicted of domestic violence.

Carrying Laws

In Texas, if you meet the requirements to purchase a firearm, you will be granted a license to carry once you apply for it. To carry a handgun, you will need to submit an online application, take a shooting proficiency test and a written exam and complete four to six hours of training. With this license, you can openly carry a handgun if it is in a hip or shoulder holster, but you do not need a license to openly carry a rifle in this state. Concealed carry requires a special permit which can be more difficult to obtain than an open carry license. You can find training courses through the websites of many licensed dealers as well as resource links such as basic facts and frequently asked questions about the laws in your state.

Mandatory Courses

Training courses for gun laws are designed to teach basic weapons safety, how the gun works and some shooting practice. These mandatory training sessions also go over applicable laws and regulations on the state, federal and local level including which properties you can carry your weapons onto, proper handling and what legal action you can face if you violate these laws. Most licensed dealers and shooting ranges will offer these courses, but it is a good idea to make sure they are authorized to issue a valid completion certificate before you sign up for training.

Owning a rifle or handgun is part of your rights, but there are some restrictions imposed by state, local and federal governments to ensure your safety and that of those around you. Most states will follow federal guidelines involving which weapons are restricted, what age you must be to purchase or possess a firearm and how much training you need for a license. In Texas, you need to be at least eighteen and not a felon to buy a rifle and can openly carry it, but you need to be twenty-one to buy a handgun and need a license or permit to carry it openly or concealed.

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