Updated September 1, 2023
With the current state of the Nation, I have seen a considerable increase in the number of gun sales. Some gun stores are selling out minutes after they open. But do most of these buyers understand fundamental gun laws? Let’s review some of the basics of gun ownership and carrying in Texas.
Do I Have To Register a Gun in My Name?
Let’s say that you purchase a gun through a private sale or someone gives you a gun as a gift. Do you have to register the gun in your name? No, you do not have to register it. There is no gun registry in Texas or at the federal level. Therefore, there is no one for you to register your gun with. Legally, there is nothing that you have to do in a private sale or when gifting a firearm as far as recording the transaction.
However, you will want to make a bill of transfer or bill of gift to keep for your own records. This document should include the firearm’s make, model, and serial number, along with when and from whom you received the firearm. If the firearm is ever lost or stolen, you will have this information to provide to law enforcement. We also recommend taking these steps if you transfer a firearm.
What Ammo is Legal for Me to Have for My Handgun?
The only ammunition regulated in Texas is armor-piercing1 handgun ammo— everything else is legal. So hollow-point and full metal jacket ammunition are both legal to carry. A good rule of thumb is if you can purchase the ammo at a sporting goods store or gun store in Texas, then it is legal to possess.
How Can I Carry My Handgun in My Car?
In Texas, you can carry a handgun in a car with or without a Texas License to Carry a Handgun (“LTC”) or other recognized license or permit. The handgun can be loaded and chambered. Whether you have an LTC or not, the handgun must be carried in one of two ways. Option 1: concealed (e.g., glove box, center console, etc.). Option 2: Openly in a holster.
What about the magnetic mounts that go under the steering wheel column of the vehicle? While I agree these mounts are pretty cool, unfortunately, the designer did not have the laws of Texas in mind. Carrying with a magnetic mount will almost always constitute carrying openly, and for that reason, the firearm must be contained in a holster. Since most of these mounts do not have a holster component—they are illegal. That being said, if there is a magnetic mount that has a harness or component that contains the action of the handgun such that the firearm must be completely removed before it is capable of being fired—it will likely qualify as a holster.
What are the Laws on Carrying a Handgun, Concealed or Open, in public?
To legally carry a handgun (concealed or open) generally in public here in Texas, the general rule is you must have an LTC or qualify for Texas Constitutional Carry, also called permitless carry. Legal open carry requires handguns to be carried in a holster. For concealed carry, the handgun may be carried anywhere on or about your person (e.g., pocket, purse, boot, etc.) so long as the handgun is wholly concealed. So, what does this actually mean? As long as no part of the handgun is visible, it is considered legally canceled.
What if your handgun accidentally shows while you’re concealed carrying? This is not a problem either. Let’s say that you are at the grocery store and reach for the top shelf to get the last pack of toilet paper. While reaching up, your shirt comes up, and part of your handgun is exposed. Accidentally showing your handgun while concealed carrying is okay. That act only becomes illegal if you intentionally display your handgun in plain view of another person in a public place and the handgun is not carried in a holster.2 Let’s go back to the previous example. Say you reach for the last pack of toilet paper at the same time as someone else. If you pull your shirt up to show them you have a gun to get the last pack of toilet paper… you’ve now broken the law.
30.06, 30.07, and 51% signs:
When carrying in public, you’ll want to pay close attention when entering an establishment to see if they have posted an effectively posted 30.05, 30.06, 30.07, or 51% sign. An effectively posted 30.05 sign applies to non-licenses holders and generally prohibits carry. An effectively posted 30.06 sign means an LTC holder cannot carry concealed into the establishment. An effectively posted 30.07 sign means an LTC holder cannot open carry into the establishment. If the establishment has both 30.06 and 30.07 signs effectively posted, then a license holder cannot carry into the premises, either open or concealed. The 51% sign—typically seen at bars, taverns, clubs, or lounges—is posted on establishments that received 51% or more of their revenue from the sale of alcohol for consumption on their premises. With or without an LTC carrying in 51% establishment locations is strictly prohibited.
We have an entire detailed guide to TEXAS “NO GUN” SIGN LAWS EXPLAINED.
Tip of the Iceberg
We have a complete guide on Gun Rights in Texas that covers even more critical topics. In that article, we address:
- Who can own a gun in Texas;
- Who can Constitutional Carry in Texas;
- What are the requirements for an LTC in Texas;
- Where can a person carry; and
- What potential crimes should gun owners be aware of.
Check out the complete guide to Gun Rights in Texas.
Final thoughts On the Basics of Gun Ownership in Texas.
Owning a handgun is a serious responsibility. Part of that responsibility is staying up-to-date on the law, having a trusted source of information, and having a plan if you ever need to defend yourself. Ignorance of the law is not an excuse! Contact us at (281)668-9957 if you need help with the basics of gun ownership in Texas.
Author: Leslie Rebescher
DISCLAIMER: The information on this website does not contain legal advice or create an attorney-client relationship. Every case is different, and this material is not a substitute for, and does not replace the advice or representation of, a licensed attorney.