Basics of Gun Ownership in Texas
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 when it comes to possessing and carrying a handgun 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, so 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 sale or bill of gift to keep for your own records. This document should include the make, model, and serial number of the firearm, 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 are selling a firearm you own through a private sale.
What ammo is legal for me to have for my handgun?
The only ammunition that is regulated here in Texas is armor-piercing handgun ammo— everything else is legal. So hollow-point and full metal jacket ammunition are both legal to carry. A good rule of thumb, if you can purchase the ammo at a sporting goods store in Texas, then it is legal to possess.
How can I carry my handgun in my vehicle?
In Texas, you can carry a handgun in a vehicle with or without a Texas License to Carry a Handgun ("LTC") or other recognized license or permit. The handgun can be loaded and chambered. If you do not have an LTC, the handgun must remain concealed (e.g., glove box, center console, etc.). If you have an LTC then you may open carry in your vehicle, but the handgun must be in a belt or shoulder holster (on your person).
What about the magnetic mounts that go under the steering wheel column of the vehicle? While I agree these mounts are pretty cool, unfortunately, they are not designed with the laws of Texas in mind, as they would not constitute a belt or shoulder 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. Legal open carry requires that the handgun be carried in either a belt or shoulder 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 concealed.
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 you 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 belt or shoulder holster. 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 in order to get the last pack of toilet paper, you've now broken the law.
30.06, 30.07, and 51% signs:
If you have an LTC, you'll want to pay close attention when entering an establishment to see if they have posted an effectively posted 30.06, 30.07, or 51% sign. An effectively posted 30.06 sign means that you cannot concealed carry into the establishment. An effectively posted 30.07 sign means that you cannot open carry into the establishment. If the establishment has both signs effectively posted, then you, as 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.
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 are ever forced to defend yourself. Ignorance of the law is not an excuse!
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.