Texas

Ammunition Regulation in Texas

Posted on Sunday, January 1st, 2012

See our Ammunition Regulation policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Texas law does not:

  • Impose a minimum age for the purchase or possession of ammunition;
  • Require the seller of ammunition to make a record of the purchaser;
  • Require a license for the purchase or possession of ammunition; or
  • Require a license to sell ammunition.

Purchase/Possession Prohibitions

Texas prohibits the transfer of ammunition to some, but not all, of the same categories of persons who are prohibited from purchasing firearms under state law. More specifically, Texas prohibits any person from intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly selling ammunition to any person who is intoxicated, and from knowingly selling ammunition to any person who has been convicted of a felony before the fifth anniversary of the later of: 1) the person’s release from confinement following conviction of the felony; or 2) the person’s release from supervision under community supervision, parole, or mandatory supervision following conviction of the felony.1

Regulation of Unreasonably Dangerous Ammunition

Texas prohibits the intentional or knowing possession, manufacture, sale, transportation or repair of any armor-piercing ammunition. “Armor-piercing ammunition” is defined as “handgun ammunition that is designed primarily for the purpose of penetrating metal or body armor and to be used principally in pistols and revolvers.”2

  1. Tex. Penal Code § 46.06(a)(3)–(4). []
  2. Tex. Penal Code §§ 46.01(12), 46.05(a)(7). []

Assault Weapons in Texas

Posted on Sunday, January 1st, 2012

Texas has no law restricting assault weapons.

See our Assault Weapons policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Background Checks in Texas

Posted on Sunday, January 1st, 2012

See our Background Checks policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Federal law requires federally licensed firearms dealers (but not private sellers) to initiate a background check on the purchaser prior to sale of a firearm. Federal law provides states with the option of serving as a state “point of contact” and conducting their own background checks using state, as well as federal, records and databases, or having the checks performed by the FBI using only the federal National Instant Criminal Background Check System (“NICS”) database. (Note that state files are not always included in the federal database.)

Texas is not a point of contact state for the NICS. Texas has no law requiring firearms dealers to initiate background checks prior to transferring a firearm. As a result, in Texas, firearms dealers must initiate the background check required by federal law by contacting the FBI directly.1

Federal law does not require dealers to conduct a background check if a firearm purchaser presents a state permit to purchase or possess firearms that meets certain conditions. As a result, concealed handgun license holders in Texas are exempt from the federal background check requirement when purchasing a handgun.2 (Note, however, that people who have become prohibited from possessing firearms may continue to hold state firearms licenses if the state fails to remove these licenses in a timely fashion.)

Texas does not require private sellers (sellers who are not licensed dealers) to initiate a background check when transferring a firearm. See our Private Sales policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

  1. Federal Bureau of Investigation, National Instant Criminal Background Check System Participation Map, at http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/nics/general-information/participation-map (last visited April 10, 2012). []
  2. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives, U.S. Department of Justice, Brady Law: Permanent Brady Permit Chart (Aug. 26, 2011), at: http://www.atf.gov/firearms/brady-law/permit-chart.html. []

Child Access Prevention in Texas

Posted on Sunday, January 1st, 2012

See our Child Access Prevention policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Under Texas law, if a child under 17 years of age gains access to a readily dischargeable firearm (i.e., loaded with ammunition, whether or not a round is in the chamber), a person is criminally liable if he or she, “with criminal negligence:”

  • Failed to secure the firearm (i.e., to take steps a reasonable person would take to prevent the access to a readily dischargeable firearm by a child, including but not limited to placing a firearm in a locked container or temporarily rendering the firearm inoperable by a trigger lock or other means); or
  • Left the firearm in a place to which the person knew or should have known the child would gain access.1

However, a person is not guilty under this law if the child’s access to the firearm:

  • Was supervised by a person older than age 18 and was for hunting, sporting, or other lawful purposes;
  • Consisted of lawful defense by the child of people or property;
  • Was gained by entering property in violation of this code; or
  • Occurred during a time when the actor was engaged in an agricultural enterprise.2)

The penalty for a violation is significantly harsher if the child discharges the firearm and causes death or serious bodily injury to himself, herself or another person.3

If the negligent person is a member of the family of the child who discharged the firearm, and the child was killed or seriously injured, an arrest cannot be made until seven days after the offense was committed.4

Finally, a firearms dealer must post in a “conspicuous position” on the premises where he or she conducts business a sign that contains the following warning in block letters not less than one inch in height:

IT IS UNLAWFUL TO STORE, TRANSPORT, OR ABANDON AN UNSECURED FIREARM IN A PLACE WHERE CHILDREN ARE LIKELY TO BE AND CAN OBTAIN ACCESS TO THE FIREARM.5

Please note that state administrative regulations govern the storage of firearms in certain locations.

  1. Tex. Penal Code § 46.13. []
  2. Tex. Penal Code § 46.13(c []
  3. Tex. Penal Code § 46.13(d), (e). []
  4. Tex. Penal Code § 46.13(f). []
  5. Tex. Penal Code § 46.13(g). []

Concealed Weapons Permitting in Texas

Posted on Sunday, January 1st, 2012

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.1

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.2 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;3
  • Is at least 21 years of age;
  • Has never been convicted4 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 convicted5 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 convicted6 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.7

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.8

At the end of 2006, 258,162 people possessed Texas licenses to carry a concealed handgun.9

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.10

The Texas Department of Public Safety must develop a course in handgun proficiency.11 A person must successfully complete both classroom and range instruction components of a handgun proficiency course to complete the course.12 Only a qualified handgun instructor may administer the handgun proficiency course.13

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).14

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.15 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.16

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.17

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.18

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).19 The Department will issue a license to carry handguns only of the categories indicated on the applicant’s certificate of proficiency.20

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.”21

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.22

A renewed license expires on the license holder’s birthday, five years after the date of the expiration of the previous license.23

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.24 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.25

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.26

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.27

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.28 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.29

Reciprocity

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.30 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.31 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.32

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.

  1. Tex. Penal Code §§ 46.02(a), 46.15(b)(6). []
  2. Tex. Gov’t Code § 411.177. []
  3. Tex. Gov’t Code § 411.173(a) requires the Department of Public Safety to establish a procedure for a person who meets the eligibility requirements for a license to carry a concealed handgun other than the residency requirement established by section 411.172(a)(1) to obtain a license. This procedure applies if the person is a legal resident of another state or if the person relocates to this state with the intent to establish residency in this state. Id. The procedure includes payment of a fee in an amount sufficient to recover the average cost to the Department of obtaining a criminal history record check and investigation on a nonresident applicant. Id. See the Reciprocity subsection below for further information. []
  4. A person is not “convicted” if an order of deferred adjudication was entered against the person more than 10 years prior to the application unless the order of deferred adjudication was entered for a felony “offense against a person, ” a robbery, or a first or second degree burglary. Tex. Gov’t Code § 411.1711. []
  5. See id. []
  6. See supra footnote 50. []
  7. Tex. Gov’t Code § 411.172. The following constitute evidence of a psychiatric disorder or condition likely to cause substantial impairment in judgment, mood, perception, impulse control, or intellectual ability: involuntary psychiatric hospitalization in the preceding five-year period; psychiatric hospitalization in the preceding two-year period; inpatient or residential substance abuse treatment in the preceding five-year period; diagnosis in the preceding five-year period by a licensed physician that the person is dependent on alcohol, a controlled substance, or a similar substance; or diagnosis at any time by a licensed physician relating to schizophrenia or delusional disorder, bipolar disorder, chronic dementia (whether caused by illness, brain defect, or brain injury), dissociative identity disorder, intermittent explosive disorder, or antisocial personality disorder. Section 411.172(e). []
  8. Tex. Gov’t Code § 411.176. Additional application and background check requirements are detailed under Tex. Gov’t Code §§ 411.174 through 411.180, and 411.196. For circumstances in which a license may be revoked, see Tex. Gov’t Code § 411.186. For situations where a license may be suspended, see Tex. Gov’t Code § 411.187. []
  9. Melanie Markley, Nearly 260,000 have license to carry weapon, Houston Chronicle, Jan. 27, 2007. []
  10. Tex. Gov’t Code § 411.174(a)(7). []
  11. Tex. Gov’t Code § 411.188(a). []
  12. Id. []
  13. Tex. Gov’t Code §§ 411.188(b), 411.190. []
  14. Tex. Gov’t Code § 411.188(b). []
  15. Tex. Gov’t Code § 411.188(a). []
  16. Tex. Gov’t Code § 411.188(a). []
  17. Tex. Gov’t Code § 411.188(d). []
  18. Tex. Gov’t Code § 411.188(k). []
  19. Tex. Gov’t Code § 411.179(b). []
  20. Tex. Gov’t Code § 411.177(a). For information on modifying a license to permit a license holder to carry a handgun of a different category than his or her license indicates, see section 411.184. []
  21. Tex. Gov’t Code § 411.183(a). []
  22. Tex. Gov’t Code § 411.185. []
  23. Tex. Gov’t Code § 411.183(b). []
  24. Tex. Gov’t Code § 411.192(a). Information on an individual subject to disclosure includes the individual’s name, date of birth, gender, race, and zip code. Tex. Gov’t Code § 411.192(a). []
  25. Tex. Gov’t Code § 411.192(c). []
  26. Tex. Gov’t Code § 411.192(a), (b). []
  27. Tex. Gov’t Code § 411.193. []
  28. Tex. Gov’t Code § 411.178. []
  29. Tex. Gov’t Code § 411.047. []
  30. Tex. Gov’t Code § 411.173. []
  31. Id. []
  32. Tex. Gov’t Code § 411.173(c). []

Dealer Regulations in Texas

Posted on Sunday, January 1st, 2012

Federal law requires firearms dealers to obtain a license from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF), although resource limitations prevent the ATF from properly overseeing all its licensees.

Texas does not require firearms dealers to obtain a license or otherwise significantly regulate firearms dealers. Firearms dealers are required to post certain warnings regarding the safe storage of firearms.1 See the Texas Child Access Prevention section.

A pawnbroker may not display a pistol for sale in a storefront window or sidewalk display case or depict in a sign or advertisement in such a way that the pistol, sign, or advertisement may be viewed from a street.2

For laws applicable to both licensed and private firearm sellers, please see the Texas Private Sales section.

Texas has no law requiring dealers to conduct a background check on prospective firearm purchasers, although the federal background check requirement applies.

See our Dealer Regulations policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

  1. Tex. Penal Code § 46.13(g). []
  2. Tex. Fin. Code § 371.179. []

Design Safety Standards for Handguns in Texas

Posted on Sunday, January 1st, 2012

Texas does not specifically regulate junk guns or unsafe firearms.

See our Design Safety Standards for Handguns policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Disarming Prohibited Persons in Texas

Posted on Sunday, January 1st, 2012

(This section was last updated April 1, 2011.)

Texas has no law requiring the removal of firearms from persons who have become prohibited from possessing them.

Domestic Violence & Firearms in Texas

Posted on Sunday, January 1st, 2012

See our Domestic Violence and Firearms policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Texas law does not:

  • Require the surrender of firearms or ammunition by domestic abusers who have become prohibited from possessing firearms or ammunition under federal or state law; or
  • Explicitly authorize or require the removal of firearms or ammunition at the scene of a domestic violence incident.

Firearm Prohibitions for Domestic Violence Misdemeanants

Texas prohibits firearm possession by domestic violence misdemeanants for five years following release from confinement or community supervision.1 These gun possession prohibitions attach to a domestic violence misdemeanor offender for offenses committed against: 1) a former or current dating partner of the offender or someone with whom the offender has had a romantic relationship; 2) any present or former household member or cohabitant of the offender, regardless of their relationship to the offender; and 3) specified family members of the offender, regardless of whether they reside with the offender.2 However, a broader federal law prohibits domestic violence misdemeanants from possessing firearms regardless of when the conviction occurred.

If a person is convicted of a misdemeanor involving family violence, the court must notify the person of the fact that it is unlawful for the person to possess or transfer a firearm or ammunition.3

A peace officer who is issuing a citation for certain misdemeanors is required to provide the person with the following written notice:

If you are convicted of a misdemeanor offense involving violence where you are or were a spouse, intimate partner, parent, or guardian of the victim or are or were involved in another, similar relationship with the victim, it may be unlawful for you to possess or purchase a firearm, including a handgun or long gun, or ammunition, pursuant to federal law under 18 U.S.C. Section 922(g)(9) or Section 46.04(b), Texas Penal Code. If you have any questions whether these laws make it illegal for you to possess or purchase a firearm, you should consult an attorney.4

A court that is accepting a plea of guilty or a plea of nolo contendere by a defendant charged with a misdemeanor involving family violence must admonish the defendant using the same statement, either orally or in writing.5

Firearm Prohibitions for Persons Subject to Domestic Violence Protective Orders

Texas law prohibits firearm possession by any person (other than an active, sworn, full-time, paid peace officer) who is subject to a protective order for a party to a suit for dissolution of a marriage, a protective order for family violence, a magistrate’s order for emergency protection following an arrest for family violence, sexual assault or stalking, a protective order for a victim of sexual assault, or a domestic violence protective order issued by another jurisdiction if he or she has received notice of the order.6

The firearm possession prohibitions attach to a person who violates a domestic violence protective order issued for violence he or she committed against: 1) a former or current dating partner of the offender or someone with whom the offender has had a romantic relationship; 2) any present or former household member or cohabitant of the offender, regardless of their relationship to the offender; and 3) specified family members of the offender, regardless of whether they reside with the offender.7

If a court issues a temporary ex parte order for family violence, the order may direct the subject of the order to do or refrain from doing specific acts, but does not specify whether specifically prohibiting the subject from possessing a firearm is a permissible restriction.8 Nevertheless, any protective order for family violence, including a temporary ex parte order, must contain the following statement: “It is unlawful for any person, other than a peace officer, as defined by section 1.07, Penal Code, actively engaged in employment as a sworn, full-time paid employee of a state agency or political subdivision, who is subject to a protective order to possess a firearm or ammunition.”9

Protective orders for victims of sexual assault and victims of human trafficking, even temporary ex parte orders, must also contain this statement.10

A magistrate issuing a protective order following an arrest for family violence, sexual assault or stalking or a court issuing a protective order against family violence must suspend the perpetrator’s license to carry a concealed handgun.11 Courts also have authority to suspend a license when issuing a protective order for a victim of sexual assault or human trafficking (even when an arrest is not made).12

  1. Tex. Penal Code § 46.04(b). See also Tex. Penal Code § 22.01(a). []
  2. Tex. Fam. Code §§ 71.0021, 71.003, 71.005, 71.006. []
  3. Tex. Code Crim. Proc. art. 42.0131 []
  4. Tex. Code Crim. Proc. art. 14.06(b). []
  5. Tex. Code Crim. Proc. art. 27.14(e)(1). []
  6. Texas Penal Code § 46.04(c). Texas law also prohibits the knowing or intentional possession of a firearm in violation of an outstanding court order issued under Tex. Code Crim. Proc. art. 17.292, Tex. Fam. Code § 6.504, Tex. Fam. Code Chapter 85, Tex. Fam. Code Chapter 83 (temporary ex parte protective orders; applies only if the temporary ex parte order has been served on the person), or by another jurisdiction as provided under Tex. Fam. Code Chapter 88. Tex. Penal Code § 25.07(a). See also Tex. Fam. Code § 85.022(b)(6) (authorizing courts to prohibit the subject of a protective order who committed family violence from possessing a firearm); Tex. Penal Code § 38.112(a)(3) (prohibiting the knowing possession of a firearm in violation of a protective order granted to a victim of sexual assault); and Tex. Crim Proc. Code art. 7B.06(a)(D) (authorizing courts to prohibit the subject of a protective order for a victim of human trafficking from possessing a firearm). []
  7. Tex. Fam. Code §§ 71.0021, 71.003, 71.005, 71.006. Tex. Penal Code § 25.07(a), (b). []
  8. Tex. Fam. Code § 83.001. []
  9. Tex. Fam. Code § 85.026. []
  10. Tex. Code Crim. Proc. art. 7A.06, 7B.07(a). []
  11. Tex. Code Crim. Proc. art. 17.292(l). []
  12. Tex. Crim. Proc. Code art. 7A.05(c), 7B.06(c); Tex. Fam. Code § 85.022(d). []

Fifty Caliber Rifles in Texas

Posted on Sunday, January 1st, 2012

Texas has no law restricting fifty caliber rifles.

See our Fifty Caliber Rifles policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.