Updated November 6, 2022
Being in Texas, there are many of us who love the Second Amendment and would love to be able to shoot our guns in our backyards. In previous discussions, we covered your rights in public. But, in this brief article, we’ll discuss the Texas gun laws for how much land you need to shoot on private property.
Shooting guns on private property
Even if the discharge of a handgun, rifle, shotgun, BB-gun, or bow and arrow is not regulated by state law, county, or municipal ordinance, you must exercise caution! You can be held liable for projectiles that leave your property, injuries, and damage.
HOW MANY ACRES DO YOU NEED TO SHOOT OUTSIDE OF CITY LIMITS?
SHOTGUNS, AIR RIFLES, AIR PISTOLS, BB GUNS, OR BOWS AND ARROWS
The law says that a municipality may not regulate the discharge of a shotgun, air rifle or pistol, BB gun, or bow and arrow in the “extraterritorial jurisdiction” of the municipality if: you are on at least a 10-acre tract of land; and you are more than 150 feet from the residence or occupied building on the neighboring property; and you do not discharge the firearm in a manner reasonably expected to cause the bullet to cross the boundary of the land.
TRADITIONAL RIFLES AND PISTOLS
The law goes on to say that a municipality also may not regulate the discharge of a centerfire or rimfire rifle or pistol of any caliber if: you are on a tract of land of 50 acres or more and more than 300 feet from the residence or occupied building located on the neighboring property; and you do not discharge the firearm in a manner reasonably expected to cause the bullet to cross the boundary of the land.
WHAT IS “EXTRATERRITORIAL JURISDICTION?”
This is the unincorporated area of a county; the area outside of the city limits. This means that if you are outside of the city limits and you have a tract of land that is at least 10 acres, you are allowed to shoot a shotgun, air rifle or pistol, BB gun, or bow and arrow as long as you are 150 feet from your neighbor’s house. If you are outside the city limits and have at least 50 acres of land and are 300 feet from your neighbor’s house, then you can shoot a traditional rifle or pistol on your property.
How many acres do you need to shoot inside of city limits?
WHAT ABOUT WITHIN CITY LIMITS?
The law does, however, allow municipalities to regulate the discharge of firearms within the city limits. This means that if you live within the city limits, you may not be able to shoot a firearm on your property, even if you meet the acreage requirements. Under Section 42.12 of the Texas Penal Code, it is a crime to recklessly discharge a firearm inside the corporate limits of a municipality that has a population of 100,000 or more. A crime under this statute is a Class A misdemeanor, meaning it is punishable by up to a year in county jail, a $4,000 fine, or both.
So, if you live outside of the city limits, there is a chance you can shoot your guns on your land, as long as you meet the acreage requirements. However, if you live within the city limits of a city with a population under 100,000, you need to check your local ordinances regarding discharging a firearm before you shoot a gun in your backyard.
Legally shooting guns on your property – other circumstances
WHAT ABOUT SELF-DEFENSE?
What if you are forced to defend yourself, others, and your property? How do these acreage laws impact self-defense? The short answer is, the defense justification could extend to all the potential violations of law discussed here. However, there is quite a bit of nuance when it comes to the defense of property which we have detailed in previous discussions.
I have questions about shooting on my property
CAN I TALK TO A LAWYER?
Yes. The attorneys at Walker & Taylor offer consultations to answer your legal questions! Learn about our simple consultation process or call us at (281) 668-9957 and get answers!
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.