Texas’ permitless carry law – what you need to know.
By: Alexandra VonHindenfalken
Dec 10, 2021.
I still get quite a few questions about the law that took effect in September of this year, which removed the requirement for Texans to obtain a License to Carry in order to carry a handgun. Here are some important facts for you to know, and my own opinion at the end of this article..
Gov. Greg Abbott signed a bill that took effect this September (2021) that will allow handguns to be carried in Texas without a permit.
Who does this new law apply to?
The law applies only to those 21 or older with no criminal record.
Who is excluded from the new law?
A Texan who is already currently disqualified from possessing a firearm will still be prohibited under the new law. Lawmakers also raised the penalties for illegal weapons carried by felons and those convicted of family violence offenses.
How can a lawful person carry their handgun?
A person can carry a handgun either concealed or openly as long as it is in a holster.
The measure repealed the requirement that the holster must be a "belt or shoulder" holster, expanding the law to include belly bands, waistband holsters, ankle holsters, pocket holsters, thigh holsters and more. (Great news for women especially!)
Where can you carry a handgun without a permit?
Texans can carry handguns openly or concealed in public, most state government buildings and businesses that do not prohibit them: Gas stations, hotels, apartment complexes, grocery stores, restaurants/private businesses (unless they have a sign displayed that specifically forbids firearms from the property.)
Laws remain the same for locations that previously prohibited firearms, including:
A polling place while voting is taking place.
A government meeting open to the public.
A courthouse, except when specifically authorized to do so.
A place where a high school, collegiate or professional sporting or an interscholastic event is being held.
A correctional facility.
An access-controlled airport terminal.
Amusement parks and bars.
Can private businesses ban guns?
Yes. Churches, stores, restaurants and other private businesses can continue to prohibit guns with written or verbal notice. They also have the discretion to ban open carry but still allow the concealed carry of handguns.
If a gun owner is warned that they may not carry a gun on the businesses' premises, they must immediately depart or face a more severe penalty.
A person who carries a gun into a prohibited location can be charged with a Class A misdemeanor or third-degree felony.
Can handgun owners still obtain a license to carry?
Yes, gun owners can still obtain a license to carry in Texas. It is not required, but highly recommended! Under the current law, Texans must pass a shooting proficiency test, written exam and background check to get a license to carry.
Background checks are still required in order to purchase a gun.
The law also directs the Texas Department of Public Safety to create a free, online gun safety course, but training is no longer required to carry a handgun.
The Texas Senate stripped a House amendment that would have banned police officers from making a stop "solely because the person is carrying a partially or wholly visible handgun in a holster."
Do other states allow permitless carry?
Texas will join 20 other states where permits are not required to carry handguns. However, if you want to carry your handgun in a license-only state, it's likely that you'll still need a Texas license. A list of states that have a reciprocal agreement with Texas’ License to Carry permit can be found here: https://www.dps.texas.gov/section/handgun-licensing/reciprocity-agreements-other-states
My professional opinion:
I firmly believe that anyone who plans to own and carry a gun must be professionally trained on how to use it safely and effectively. There are too many important aspects to gun ownership that do not occur to one naturally the moment they become the owner of a firearm. This knowledge can only be taught and coached. Even though I am a strong advocate for the right to bear arms, history has shown that there can be devastating and irreversible consequences when firearms are in the hands of someone who is untrained, naïve and does not have a clear understanding of what a firearm is designed to do. The loss can never be worth the price of remaining ignorant when training is available and affordable.
I am not alone with this opinion. Every instructor that I know shares these or similar thoughts, it is what drives us to do what we do. We want everyone to be able to responsibly own and carry guns.
I hope that this article helped! Feel free to contact me with any more questions.