Texas is gun-friendly. The state's gun laws are not overly restrictive, particularly when it comes to carrying a handgun or a long gun in a motor vehicle. In fact, there are no laws regarding carrying shotguns and rifles in cars.
A handgun owner can carry a gun in a vehicle in the Lone Star State, but there are minor restrictions, such as keeping it in a shoulder or a belt holster.
Handguns and Motor Vehicles in Texas
Texas law allows individuals to transport handguns “inside of, or directly en route to, a motor vehicle or watercraft that is owned by the person or under the person's control.”
The gun owner must be otherwise legally able to carry a firearm. To legally possess a firearm, under Texas Penal Code Sections 6.02 and 46.04, a person must:
- Be at least 21 years of age.
- Not have a prior felony conviction for criminal activity. (If they are a felon, they must wait five years to possess a gun again and can only carry it on their property).
- Not have recent convictions for non-Class C misdemeanors.
- Not have a protective order against them.
- Not be restricted from possessing a firearm, according to federal law.
- Not be intoxicated while the gun is in their possession.
Where Can a Gun Owner Put a Weapon in a Motor Vehicle?
Before September 1, 2021, only gun owners with a Texas License to Carry (LTC) could keep handguns in "plain view" in a motor vehicle. However, after the passing of House Bill 1927, this requirement was eliminated.
Texans who do not hold an LTC, but are eligible to carry a handgun, can now keep it in "plain view” in their vehicle. The handgun must be in a shoulder or a belt holster.
Texas law does not specify where a handgun should be stored when in a motor vehicle. It could be placed in the backseat, in the glove compartment or on a passenger seat. State law also does not specify if a handgun must be unloaded while in the vehicle.
Additional Texas Laws on Handguns in Motor Vehicles
The state of Texas prohibits individuals from knowingly, intentionally or recklessly possessing, transporting or storing a gun on a passenger transportation vehicle owned by an educational institution, such as a school, except according to the institution’s written regulations or authorization.
Valid license holders may be authorized to carry a concealed handgun in an educational institution’s passenger transportation vehicle and in its parking areas.
Employers in the state of Texas – both public and private – cannot prohibit an employee who is also a gun owner from possessing, transporting or storing a firearm or ammunition in a vehicle that is locked and privately owned in a parking lot or garage the business provides.
Gun Rights for School Employees and Foster Parents
K-12 open enrollment charter schools and school districts must not prohibit employees who lawfully possess a firearm or ammunition from keeping it in a vehicle that is locked and privately owned in a parking lot or garage provided by the school. However, the firearm and any ammunition must not be in plain view.
Similarly, the Texas Department of Family and Child Services cannot restrict a foster parent from possessing a firearm while transporting a foster child in a vehicle.
Michelle Nati is an associate editor and writer who has reported on legal, criminal and government news for PasadenaNow.com and Complex Media. She holds a B.A. in Communications and English from Niagara University.