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The Illegal Possession of Unlicensed Guns in Texas

Criminal Law Blog by The Law Office of Greg Tsioros

The Illegal Possession of Unlicensed Guns in Texas

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Texas gets compared to the old Wild West you read about in textbooks, but the state isn’t that lenient when it comes to guns in 2019. While the state remains a beacon of liberty for legal gun carriers, it also strictly upholds the law when it comes to illegal guns.

If you plan on living in Texas or visiting the state, then you need to know everything about their gun laws. After all, we’re not living in a Western movie. So, get informed on the laws surrounding illegal possession of unlicensed guns in Texas now to avoid the consequences later.

Texas: Legal Versus Illegal Gun Possession

According to the Second Amendment, U.S. citizens have the right to bear arms. In short, that means we’re allowed to carry weapons. That doesn’t mean that right doesn’t have restrictions, though. The Constitution allows the State of Texas to regulate guns.

There’s a major difference between legal and illegal weapons in Texas. You could face several criminal charges for carrying, buying or selling an illegal weapon. Let’s breakdown some of the laws.

First, you must have a license to legally carry a handgun anywhere other than:

  • Your own property
  • In a boat that you own
  • In a motor vehicle that you own

If you do have a license, then you have to conceal your weapon. You can’t just boldly display your handgun in public, and you can’t be carrying your weapon if you’re intoxicated. There are also specific items that are completely illegal to possess at any time. Here is a list of what’s considered an illegal weapon in Texas:

  • Handguns (without a license)
  • Any firearm equipped with a silencer
  • Bombs or bomb-making material
  • Mines
  • Rockets
  • Grenades
  • Machine guns
  • Rifles with a barrel length less than 16 inches
  • Shotguns with a barrel length less than 18 inches

In Texas, there aren’t a lot of arrests involving mines, rockets or grenades. Most illegal weapons charges involve handguns or other firearms.

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Where is it Illegal to Carry Guns in Texas?

The legality of possessing your weapon may also hinge on where you are. There are certain areas where you’re prohibited from bringing your gun. Here are a few of these gun-free areas:

  • Schools or other educational institutions
  • Racetracks
  • Airports
  • Government offices
  • Courthouses
  • Polling places on election day
  • Polling places on early voting days

If a business has a posted sign restricting patrons from carrying their weapons, then you’re obligated to obey. You can be charged with trespassing if you bring a weapon in an area that prohibits them.

Here’s another thing to keep in mind – it’s a crime to display your weapon in a threatening manner towards someone else. If you’re accused of doing this, then you can get charged with disorderly conduct.

Who Is Eligible to Apply for a Weapons License?

With all these rules and regulations in mind, it makes sense to get a license for your weapon if you intend to carry it out with you in public. So, who is eligible to apply for a weapons license, and how do you go about getting one?

There are certain individuals who are prohibited from obtaining a weapons license. These restrictions apply to:

  • Anyone who has been convicted of a felony
  • Anyone who has been convicted of a domestic violence misdemeanor
  • Anyone who is subject to a domestic violence restraining order
  • Anyone in the country illegally
  • Anyone who has been dishonorably discharged from the military
  • Anyone who has evaded arrest

These aren’t the only restrictions, though. To be eligible for a handgun license, you must:

  • Be a resident of the state of Texas
  • Be at least 21 years old
  • Pass a gun-safety course
  • Pass a background check
  • Not be late in child-support or tax payments
  • Not have a psychiatric condition or disorder
  • Not be chemically dependent on any controlled substance

While strict, these regulations are put in place to ensure that guns are only in the hands of those who are informed and competent.

Stand Your Ground in Texas

Texas is a “Stand Your Ground” state. This law gives citizens the right to defend themselves in their homes. The Castle Doctrine says that deadly force is warranted when someone is threatening you on your own property.

The Stand Your Ground rule extends this Castle Doctrine to include public areas. If the person isn’t committing a crime and has a right to be in the area, then they’re warranted in using deadly force when threatened by someone else.

In order to use these doctrines as a defense, you must prove that the other person was threatening you. The deadly force must have been warranted.

New Laws in Texas for 2019

Texas has been through a lot over the past few years. The increase in extreme weather has resulted in natural disasters and evacuation zones. There’s also been a sharp increase in gun-related crime. Most notably, there have been a few mass shootings in the state. In response to the growing number of these incidents, the state of Texas has passed new laws regarding carrying your weapon during these times.

Beginning in September of 2019, handgun owners will be permitted to carry their gun without a licensed for a full week in the event a federal disaster zone is declared. The biggest push for this new legislation came from victims of Hurricane Harvey who had to abandon their weapons during the crisis.

This new law also addresses gun restrictions in housing units, schools and houses of worship. Landlords can’t prohibit renters from having guns in their rental units anymore. There also won’t be any restrictions on the number of armed faculty in schools. Finally, churches must give notice to their congregations if they wish to ban guns.

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What If I’m Accused of a Gun Crime in Texas?

It’s no secret – Texas is a state that prides itself on upholding the law. It’s also known for its punitive criminal justice mindset. That means the state is much more likely to prefer to incarcerate offenders rather than rehabilitate them. The state also recognizes that incarceration isn’t always the best option, though.

If you are accused of an illegal gun crime in Texas, then you’ll be facing severe consequences. Do not make the mistake of thinking the state of Texas will be lenient on you simply because they are considered a pro-firearms state.

Your penalties will increase if you’ve committed another crime while carrying an illegal gun.

So, what are your options? If you’re accused of a gun crime, then you should seek out legal representation right away. You need to start formulating a defense strategy that will help you get the best possible legal outcome.

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