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Everything You Should Know About Changes to Gun Laws in Texas

Criminal Law Blog by The Law Office of Greg Tsioros

Everything You Should Know About Changes to Gun Laws in Texas

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Are you a law-abiding gun owner who lives in Texas? If so, then all the recent news reports about gun violence likely have you concerned. Will the recent wave of nationwide violence result in sweeping changes in gun laws?

If you’re feeling worried, then you’re not alone. Several lawmakers in Texas have the same concerns. In response, they’ve crafted new gun-related measures that went into effect on September 1st. These latest changes are designed to protect a gun holder’s 2nd Amendment Rights and uphold their ability to carry while out in public.

As a gun owner, you’re expected to stay up to date on all the latest gun laws and changes. Below, you’ll find a comprehensive guide to understanding everything you need to know about gun laws in Texas.

What Federal Gun Laws Apply in Texas?

The U.S. Constitution is the supreme law of the entire nation. The 2nd Amendment gives us all the right to “keep and bear arms.” Some may mistakenly believe that this right prevents the federal government from making ANY rules regarding firearms. Here are a few federal laws you need to know about:

Together, these three acts regulate the sale, possession and purchase of firearms. Some weapons and attachments are completely banned. Silencers, machine guns, certain rifles and specific shotguns are prohibited. Age restrictions also apply. Felons aren’t allowed to own weapons, either.

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Gun Laws Specific to the State of Texas

Different states have various levels of gun control. Texas is well-known for its commitment to upholding the 2nd Amendment and allowing its citizens a lot of freedom when it comes to guns. It’s known as a Stand Your Ground state, which means that Texas state law allows individuals in danger to use deadly force as a means of protecting themselves.

In Texas, licensed dealers must conduct an official background check before selling a firearm to someone. Private sellers, though, don’t have to conduct background checks in the state. Handgun licenses, which are distributed by the state’s Department of Public Safety, are issued to everyone who meets the basic requirements of owning a weapon. These basic requirements include training, submitting fingerprints, passing an exam and succeeding in a shooting test. No specific license is needed to openly care a rifle in Texas, unlike other states. Handgun owners are also free to openly carry on their hip or shoulder. There are certain restrictions on where gun owners can tote their weapons including in courtrooms, schools, airports and polling places.

New Gun Law Changes: What You Need to Know

These rather lenient laws in Texas have come under a lot of scrutiny as nationwide gun violence has continued to make headlines. As a result, nine new gun law changes have been implemented. These changes are effective starting on September 1st.

If you were expecting to hear about tighter gun control, then you are mistaken. These new laws loosen restrictions that are already on gun owners who are carrying in public. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Landlords can no longer prevent tenants or guests from carrying
  • Licensed owners can now carry in places of worship
  • There’s no longer a cap on the number of school marshals that can carry on campus
  • In the event of a mandatory evacuation, owners can carry their firearms without a license for up to 48 hours
  • When a state or federal disaster zone gets declared, gun owners can carry without a license for up to a week

These laws were implemented in an effort to help keep every Texan safe. Many Texans were upset when Hurricane Harvey hit the state back in 2017, and residents weren’t able to take their firearms with them while evacuating. These latest measures are an attempt at fixing that problem.

There’s an overwhelming perception in the state that gun-free zones only increase the likelihood of a violent attacker creating mass chaos. A good guy with a gun, they argue, can stop a bad man with a gun.

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Why Are Gun Laws Being Challenged in Texas?

Unless you’ve been staying away from all news outlets and social media websites, then you’ve likely heard about the recent tragedy in El Paso. A 21-year-old man was able to kill 20 and wound 26 others with a single rifle. The whole ordeal occurred at a Walmart. In response, Walmart has just announced that they will be leaving the handgun market. They’ve also decided to stop selling certain types of ammunition and impose a new policy that prevents shoppers from openly carrying their guns while shopping.

The strong response has been met with mixed reactions. Some Americans are praising Walmart, while others are worried that the store’s actions are indicative of more widespread measures against guns.

Some Texan lawmakers share the same views as Walmart. One such elected official, Democratic Representative Roland Gutierrez, has been an outspoken proponent for tighter gun laws in Texas. Last month, he urged the Governor to have an emergency session to address gun violence and discuss how to deal with it.

Just weeks later, another mass shooting occurred in Odessa that took the lives of seven people. At least 18 people were injured, including a small 17-month-old baby. This time, the gunman was shooting people indiscriminately from a postal truck. The gunman was allegedly attempting to flee from the police when he decided to go on the rampage. The suspect was ultimately taken down by an officer’s gun, but his motive remains a mystery.

It remains unclear exactly how the federal government, various states and businesses will respond to these recent acts. As gun violence continues to be sensationalized, it will likely continue to remain at the forefront of many political discussions. If you currently own guns or plan to in the future, then it’s best to stay updated on any new changes that happen regarding the legality of certain weapons, attachments or ammunition. When in doubt, reach out to a lawyer who can advise you on your rights and responsibilities as a gun owner.

Your Rights as a Texan: The Bottom Line

The Constitution makes it clear: U.S. citizens have the right to keep and bear arms. Yet, this seemingly simple right has become increasingly complicated in recent years. Both federal and state laws govern an individual’s ability to uphold their right to firearms, and it’s necessary to stay informed about all of them.

Were you recently charged with a gun-related crime? Are you struggling to understand whether you were within your rights or not? Don’t attempt to go up against the state while representing yourself. Instead, put your trust in a legal representative who can help you determine your best options. Reach out to the Law Office of Greg Tsioros now at (832) 752-5972

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