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When Is It Illegal to Carry a Firearm in Texas?

Criminal Law Blog by The Law Office of Greg Tsioros

When Is It Illegal to Carry a Firearm in Texas?

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The Lone Star State is well-known for its incredible BBQ, the Alamo, and of course its wide-open land. In fact, Texas is the second-largest state in the nation.

With all that open land, is it any wonder that most citizens of Texas are strong advocates for the Second Amendment?

Texans carry licensed weapons for a lot of reasons – from personal protection to hunting. Despite that, we don’t live in the wild west anymore, and there are a lot of federal and state laws regarding firearms. So, when is it illegal to carry a firearm in Texas? Find out five instances when carrying a gun is against the law below.

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1. When You’re a Minor, a Felon, or Have Been Convicted of Domestic Violence

According to the Texas Penal Code, you cannot own a firearm if you fall into any of the following categories:

  • You have a domestic violence conviction on your record
  • You’ve been convicted of a felony
  • You’re currently subject to a domestic violence restraining order
  • You are under a non-immigrant visa
  • You were dishonorably discharged by the military

You also must be old enough to possess a gun. To purchase a rifle, you need to be 18 years old. You’ll need to be 21 years old to buy a handgun. If you’re underage, you can’t legally own a firearm. A minor can, however, legally use a firearm to defend themselves or hunt.

2. If You’re in a Gun-Free Zone

It’s illegal to carry your firearm into any gun-free zone in Texas. Here is a list of specific areas that are considered gun-free, including:

  • Any public school property
  • Anywhere a school activity is taking place
  • Government court buildings
  • Racetracks
  • Polling places
  • Airports
  • Established gun-free zones on college campuses
  • Hospitals
  • Prisons
  • Businesses that derive more than 50% of their income from selling alcohol

There is one important caveat to these laws, though: you are legally allowed to carry your handgun if you are traveling to or from your own home, apartment or condo.

Have you ever seen a gun-free zone sign posted outside of a business that doesn’t fall into these categories? If so, then you could be prosecuted if you still choose to bring your weapon into these areas.

3. If You Don’t Have a License (Depending on the Weapon)

In general, you’re allowed to carry your weapons without a permit if you’re on your own property. You can also carry them in your vehicle or boat while you travel.

If you’re hoping to bring your handgun with you while you travel on foot, though, you’ll need to apply for a license. You’ll need to be a Texas resident and pass a background check before you’re approved for this license. 

If you don’t have a license for a handgun, you can get charged with unlawfully carrying a firearm. You can also get charged with this crime if you purposefully display your handgun in a public area. Even with a license, you must carry a handgun in a belt or shoulder holster. You should never carry your handgun in your hands while out in public.

4. If You’re a Member of a Criminal Gang

Here’s another important law you need to know about in Texas: you’re not allowed to have a firearm if police suspect that you’re a member of a criminal street gang.

According to Texas law, a criminal street gang is a group of three or more individuals who regularly commit crimes. To be considered a criminal street gang, the group must also have some ‘sign’. This ‘sign’ could be a specific color, logo, hand sign, tattoo or symbol. The criminal street gang also must have an identifiable leader.

While you might not be a gang member, you could be mistaken for one by police officers. If an officer suspects you’re involved in gang-related activity AND you have a firearm, they may choose to arrest you for unlawfully carrying a weapon.

5. If You’re Intoxicated

For obvious reasons, it’s not a great idea to bring your weapon if you’re planning on drinking. Alcohol and weapons do not mix well. If you’re intoxicated, then you’re not legally permitted to carry your firearm anymore. On top of that, most bars are considered gun-free zones.

A DUI charge is serious enough, but your penalties and charges will both increase if you have a gun in your car.

Penalties for Unlawfully Carrying a Firearm in Texas

In Texas, unlawfully carrying a weapon is considered a Class A misdemeanor. This crime can, however, be upgraded to a third-degree felony if you’re carrying your weapon in an area that also serves alcoholic beverages.

A Class A misdemeanor carries the following penalties:

  • Up to one year in jail
  • Fines up to $4,000
  • Possible community service
  • Possible probation period

A third-degree felony charge carries even harsher penalties. If you are ultimately convicted of a felony, then you’ll also be prohibited from ever lawfully purchasing or carrying a firearm again.

Have you been charged with a weapon violation?
Contact attorney Greg Tsioros today 

When is it Illegal to Carry a Firearm in Texas?

There are few remaining states in the country that strongly advocate for the Second Amendment. More and more states are choosing to enact gun-free zones, ban certain weapons, and tighten restrictions regarding gun ownership. As of right now, Texas isn’t one of them.

Despite that, our state still has specific laws regarding who can legally purchase, own, and carry firearms. The state also dictates where you’re permitted to carry your gun with you. If you don’t follow these laws, you could face serious criminal charges. To avoid this fate, you need to know when and where you can carry your gun with you.

Were you recently arrested for a weapon-related crime? Are you unsure whether your rights were violated? If you have specific questions regarding your charges, we can help. Reach out to our team now to learn more about how our firm can help you move forward after a weapons charge in Texas.

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