Posted in Texas Laws on October 4, 2019
Texas lawmakers support the Second Amendment: the right to keep and bear arms. Historically, Texas has been a very gun-friendly state, with some of the most relaxed firearm purchase and carry laws in the country. The gun-rights trend continues in 2019, as a new law broadens the scope of where gun owners can lawfully carry their weapons in Texas. This new law, along with a few others, will apply to more than 1.3 million Texans who have active concealed carry permits today. Learn the latest gun laws in Texas for the 2019 legislative season to understand your new rights and responsibilities as a gun owner, if they apply to you.
Who Can Own Guns in Texas?
Texas’ gun laws do not strongly restrict who can own a gun in the state. Instead, they focus on regulating how and where owners can use guns, rather than who may purchase a firearm. Anyone, regardless of age, may own a gun in Texas as long as that person is not a convicted felon. To purchase a handgun, however, a person must be at least 21 years old. Federally licensed firearms dealers must conduct background checks on buyers prior to selling them guns. Private sellers, however, do not need to perform background checks. Transferring a firearm also does not require a background check. If you have a license to carry a handgun, you are exempt from future background checks while purchasing weapons.
What Guns Are Legal in Texas?
Almost all types of firearms are legal for licensed owners in the state of Texas. This includes military-style weapons, with some age restrictions. You must be 18 to own a handgun in Texas unless you possess the handgun for hunting or in self-defense scenarios. You must be 21 to buy a handgun from a licensed dealer.
You must be 18 to purchase a rifle, as long as it is a legal rifle. The state prohibits short-barrel rifles (less than 16 inches) and short-barrel shotguns (less than 18 inches) unless the buyer pays the $200 tax to qualify as an exemption. Buyers can also pay this tax to purchase otherwise prohibited weapons, including machine guns and silencers. Along with the tax, buyers must register these weapons with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Where Can Owners Bring Their Guns?
In light of the increasing number of mass shootings – including many in churches – resulting in fatal injuries, Texas lawmakers have made a change to the law prohibiting gun carriers from bringing weapons into churches. Texas was the scene of the deadliest church shooting in U.S. history, the Sutherland Springs shooting of 2017. Lawmakers may have kept this in mind when passing the new law. SB 535 allows licensed gun holders to carry their weapons into churches, synagogues and other established places of worship, as long as the church permits carriers to do so. It will be up to each place of worship to allow or disallow handguns on the premises.
Another new law, HB 446, also lifted restrictions on where people can bring other weapons, including tomahawks, brass knuckles, mace and nightsticks. These, along with a list of other weapons, are now legal to bring into most places in the state. This crime was a misdemeanor before the new law went into effect. It will still be against the law, however, to carry these weapons into schools, jails, nursing homes and other restricted areas.
A third law also broadens where gun owners may carry their weapons. HB 302 eliminates a statute that allowed property owners to have no firearm clauses on their leasing agreements. Signing this agreement meant the tenant or guest could not carry or store firearms or ammunition in the home, apartment or condo. The new law makes it illegal for landlords to enforce no firearm clauses, expanding housing options for hundreds of thousands of gun owners in the state.