See our Carrying Concealed Weapons policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.
Texas does not prohibit carrying a handgun on one’s person if the person is also carrying a valid license to carry a concealed handgun of the same category as the handgun the person is carrying.
Texas is a “shall-issue” state, meaning that the Department of Public Safety must issue a concealed handgun license if the applicant meets certain qualifications. Texas law provides that a person is eligible for a license to carry a concealed handgun if the person:
- Is a legal resident of Texas for the six-month period preceding the date of the application or meets the special eligibility requirements for legal residents of other states that do not issue licenses to carry concealed handguns;
- Is at least 21 years of age;
- Has never been convicted of a felony;
- Is not charged with the commission of a Class A or Class B misdemeanor or disorderly conduct, or of a felony under an information or indictment;
- Is not a fugitive from justice for a felony or a Class A or Class B misdemeanor;
- Is not a “chemically dependent person”;
- Has not been convicted two or more times within the past 10-year period of an offense of the grade of Class B misdemeanor or greater that involves the use of alcohol or a controlled substance as a statutory element of the offense;
- Has not been diagnosed by a licensed physician or declared by a court to be incompetent to manage his or her own affairs;
- Has not entered in a criminal proceeding a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity;
- Has not, in the five years preceding the date of application, been convicted of a Class A or Class B misdemeanor or disorderly conduct;
- Has not been “finally determined” to be delinquent in making a child support payment administered or collected by the attorney general;
- Has not been “finally determined” to be delinquent in the payment of a tax or other money collected by the comptroller, the tax collector of a political subdivision of the state, or any agency or subdivision of the state;
- Has not been “finally determined” to be in default on a loan made under Tex. Educ. Code Chapter 57;
- Is not currently restricted under a court protective order or subject to a restraining order affecting the spousal relationship, other than a restraining order solely affecting property interests;
- Has not, in the past 10 years, been adjudicated as having engaged in delinquent conduct violating a penal law of the grade of felony;
- Has not made any material misrepresentation, or failed to disclose any material fact, in an application for a license to carry a concealed handgun;
- Has not been diagnosed by a licensed physician as suffering from a psychiatric disorder or condition that causes or is likely to cause substantial impairment in judgment, mood, perception, impulse control, or intellectual ability, unless he or she provides a certificate from a licensed psychiatrist stating that the psychiatric disorder or condition is in remission and is not reasonably likely to redevelop;
- Does not suffer from a psychiatric disorder or condition that causes or is likely to cause substantial impairment in judgment, mood, perception, impulse control, or intellectual ability and that is in remission but reasonably likely to redevelop; and
- Does not require continuous medical treatment to avoid redeveloping a psychiatric disorder or condition that causes or is likely to cause substantial impairment in judgment, mood, perception, impulse control, or intellectual ability.
Texas law provides that the local designee of the Department of Public Safety must conduct an additional background check (in addition to the initial background check conducted by the Department) on the applicant using local official records to verify the accuracy of application materials.
At the end of 2006, 258,162 people possessed Texas licenses to carry a concealed handgun.
Firearm Safety Training
Texas requires applicants for concealed handgun licenses to obtain evidence of handgun proficiency as a prerequisite to obtaining a license. The evidence of handgun proficiency may be in any form and manner as permitted by the Texas Department of Public Safety.
The Texas Department of Public Safety must develop a course in handgun proficiency. A person must successfully complete both classroom and range instruction components of a handgun proficiency course to complete the course. Only a qualified handgun instructor may administer the handgun proficiency course.
The handgun proficiency course must include at least 10, and up to 15, hours of instruction on:
- Laws that relate to weapons and to the use of deadly force;
- Handgun use, proficiency, and safety;
- Non-violent dispute resolution; and
- Proper storage practices for handguns (emphasizing storage practices that eliminate the possibility of accidental injury to a child).
The range instruction part of the course must include an actual demonstration by the applicant of his or her ability to safely and proficiently use the category of handgun for which the applicant seeks certification. An applicant may not be certified unless he or she demonstrates, at a minimum, the degree of proficiency that is required to effectively operate a handgun of .32 caliber or above.
The proficiency examination must also include a written section on the subjects listed above, as well as the physical demonstration of proficiency in the use and safety procedures of one or more handguns of specific categories, and in handgun safety procedures.
A handgun instructor may submit to the Department a written recommendation for disapproval of the application for a license, renewal, or modification of a license, accompanied by an affidavit stating the facts that lead the instructor to believe that an applicant does not possess the required handgun proficiency. The Department may use this written recommendation as the basis for denial of a license only if the Department determines that the recommendation is made in good faith and is supported by a preponderance of the evidence.
The license will indicate the category of any handgun for which the applicant has demonstrated proficiency in the form and manner required by the Department. The categories of handguns are: “SA” (any handguns, whether semi-automatic or not), and “NSA” (handguns that are not semi-automatic). The Department will issue a license to carry handguns only of the categories indicated on the applicant’s certificate of proficiency.
Duration & Renewal
Once issued, a Texas license to carry a concealed handgun expires “on the first birthday of the license holder occurring after the fourth anniversary of the date of issuance.”
To renew a license, a license holder must:
- Complete a continuing education course in handgun proficiency that includes at least four hours of instruction on one or more of the subjects listed covered in the original course, along with any other information the director deems appropriate not more than six months before the date of application for renewal; and
- Submit additional application materials and an application fee to the Department, including evidence of handgun proficiency in the manner and form required by the Department.
A renewed license expires on the license holder’s birthday, five years after the date of the expiration of the previous license.
Disclosure or Use of Information
Texas law requires the Department to disclose to any criminal justice agency information contained in its files and records regarding whether a specific individual is licensed to carry a concealed handgun in Texas. The Department must notify a license holder of any request that is made for information relating to the license holder and provide the name of the agency making the request.
Generally, all other records are confidential and are not subject to mandatory disclosure, except that the applicant or license holder may be furnished a copy of disclosable records on request and the payment of a reasonable fee.
Texas law requires the Department to make a monthly statistical report that includes the number of licenses issued, denied, suspended, or revoked by the Department during the preceding month, “listed by age, gender, race and zip code of the applicant or license holder.” This report is available on request and payment of a reasonable fee.
On request of a local law enforcement agency, the Department shall notify the agency of the licenses that have been issued to license holders who reside in the county in which the agency is located. The Department is required to report annually on its website statistics related to incidents in which a person licensed to carry a handgun is convicted of certain offenses.
Texas law requires the Governor of Texas to negotiate agreements with other states that issue concealed handgun licenses so that Texas may recognize such licenses. The Governor must also issue a proclamation that licenses issued by another state are recognized in Texas, if the Texas Attorney General determines that state or local authorities or an agent of the state or local authorities initiates a background check of each applicant for a license issued by that state before the license is issued, to determine the applicant’s eligibility to possess a firearm under federal law. The Attorney General is required to make this determination annually for each state, and determine what changes to the statutes of all other states are necessary for Texas to recognize those states’ licenses.
The states with which Texas has established concealed handgun license reciprocity agreements are listed on the Texas Department of Public Safety’s Concealed Handgun License Reciprocity page. That page also lists each proclamation made by the Governor to the effect that licenses issued by another state are recognized in Texas.