Texas gun possession laws are among the most generous in the nation. However, recent events and legislation are causing law enforcement agents to be more vigilant in making arrests for violations.
If you are facing weapons charges in Texas, here’s a brief overview of the possession laws and a list of possible defenses.
A Breakdown of Weapons Laws in Texas
Texas law permits the open carrying of a long-barrel firearm, but you must have a permit to carry a handgun. Certain laws restrict where and when you can carry a handgun, even with a permit. Here is a sampling of the possession and carrying statutes, along with penalties.
Any of the following items are unlawful for possession, manufacture, transport, repair, or sales.
- Armor-piercing ammunition
- Chemical dispensing device
- Explosive weapon
- Firearm silencer
- Machine gun
- Short-barrel firearm
- Tire deflation device
- Zip gun
Offenses to this law range from Class A misdemeanor to third degree felony charges.
You cannot carry a firearm onto the property of educational institutions, election polling stations, government offices, courts, racetracks, airports, or within 1,000 feet of an execution site on the day of a death sentencing. Exemptions apply for military officers, prison guards, and court officers.
An offense to this law is a third degree felony.
It is permissible to carry a handgun on your own premises or an area under your control, or in a motor vehicle or watercraft owned by you or under your control. However, you cannot lawfully display it in plain view, be engaged in criminal activity, be prohibited from firearm possession, or be a member of a criminal gang.
An offense to this law is a Class A misdemeanor unless it occurs in a licensed place for alcohol sales, in which case it is a third degree felony.
Unlawful Carrying by License Holder
You cannot intentionally display a handgun in a public place, unless you are carrying it in a shoulder or belt holster and the handgun came into view. This holds true on the premises of higher education institutions, places with liquor licenses, sporting events, correctional facilities, hospitals, amusement parks, places of worship, or where government meetings are held. You cannot carry a handgun while intoxicated, even if it is worn in a holster.
Offenses to this law are either Class A misdemeanor or third degree felony charges. Exemptions apply if the use of deadly force is justified.
Individuals who have previous felony convictions may not lawfully possess a firearm or body armor within five years of release from conviction or supervision.
An offense to this law is a third degree felony.
You may not lawfully sell, rent, lease, loan or give a handgun to the following groups of people:
- A child under 18 years old without written permission from the child’s parent or guardian
- A person who is intoxicated
- A person you know intends to unlawfully use the handgun
- A person convicted of a felony within five years of their release from confinement or supervision
- A person known to be under an active protective order
An offense to this law is a class A misdemeanor or a state jail felony.
What Happens If You are Charged with a Weapons Law Violation
If you have been charged with a violation, the law enforcement likely seized your weapon. According to the criminal procedure code, this is what happens next.
- The magistrate will release the weapon to the owner before the 61st day after the initial notification, as long as no prosecution or conviction occurs, provided that the owner makes a written request for the weapon to be returned.
- If the weapon is not requested to be returned, the magistrate has until the 121st day after the initial notification to have the weapon forfeited to the state for use or forensics, sold at a public auction, or destroyed.
- The weapon may not be returned to the owner under certain conditions, including if prior weapon offenses exist and if the court determines that possession would pose a threat to one or more individuals.
Possible Defenses against your Weapons Charges
One thing you can do is claim your second amendment right to bear arms. Another common defense is unlawful search and seizure. If you were acting in self-defense, the charges may be dropped as well. You may be able to claim an exemption under certain circumstances, which can be explained to you by a skilled attorney.
Whether you are facing a misdemeanor charge or a felony charge, an experienced Fort Worth defense attorney can help. A lawyer who is up-to-date on current gun legislation will give you the best chance at success. Contact us today to set up a free case review.
About the Author:
After getting his Juris Doctor from the University of Houston Law Center, Jeff Hampton began practicing criminal law in Texas in 2005. Before becoming a defense attorney, he worked as a prosecutor for the Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office – experience he uses to anticipate and cast doubt on the arguments that will be used against his clients. Over the course of his career, he has helped countless Texans protect their rights and get the best possible outcome in their criminal cases. His skill has earned him recognition from the National Trial Lawyers (Top 100 Trial Lawyers) and Avvo (Top Attorney in Criminal Defense, Top Attorney in DUI & DWI, 10/10 Superb Rating), and he is Lead Counsel rated.